The Highmark Foundation will team with Accenture (NYSE:ACN) to establish and implement a patient navigation pilot program at two Western Pennsylvania hospitals: St. Vincent Health System in Erie and Allegheny Valley in Pittsburgh. Patient navigation, which utilizes low-cost, trained community members to connect patients to primary care, has shown to reduce appointment “no-show” rates, decrease inpatient admissions and reduce unnecessary emergency room visits, according to a recent Accenture report. “This initiative demonstrates the Highmark Foundation’s commitment to improving and assuring access to quality healthcare for underserved populations in both urban and rural areas,” said Yvonne Cook, president of the Highmark Foundation. “Patient navigators have proven to be effective by enabling timely access to healthcare services.” Accenture and the Highmark Foundation will work with the hospitals to create an infrastructure for patient navigation – both locally and within the individual hospitals. As a part of the effort, six patient navigators will be trained, hired and placed within the hospitals, while an additional 10 navigators will be trained, so they can assist when necessary. A third participating hospital is being determined. The Highmark Foundation has committed $254,500 and Accenture will provide pro-bono services in support of the program. “Patient navigation not only creates a one-on-one connection for the patient, it serves as a low-cost investment that delivers significant value to care delivery,” said Jean-Pierre Stephan, who leads health consumer and services strategy for Accenture. “The Highmark Foundation is uniquely positioned to help hospitals and patients navigate various barriers within the health system while freeing up time for clinicians to do what they do best – provide care.” Allegheny and Erie counties were selected for the program partially based on county health rankings; each county had specific factors suggesting a high demand for patient navigation, including limited access to care, quality of care, health disparities, low income, geographic location and racial or ethnic diversity.