Navigating the Internet to Best Help Patients: How to Use Online Patient Support Resources Confidently

By Tiffany Santiago, CHeS, ADN, PACS
Patient Navigator, H.O.P.E Patient Concierge and AONN+ Advisory Committee member


There is a ton of healthcare information online.  Tiffany Santiago, Vice President and Director, Patient Support Services, H.O.P.E. Patient Concierge, shares best practices from over a decade in patient navigation to ensure you’re using accurate, reliable sources to assist patients. 

Hey there Patient Navigator, Social Worker, Financial Counselor, Patient Advocate, or family member or friend who has taken on a caregiving responsibility.

We have all heard: “Go to this website to see all of the current up to date funding available for your patients in one place.” You head over to the website, and with excitement you see there is open and available funding.  But when you go directly to the organization’s site, you find funding is closed or not available.

What do you do now? How quickly can you find other forms of assistance your patient needs?

Here are some tips I have learned over the last 12 plus years working with foundations and grants, that help me to secure assistance for my patients quickly.

Have your own waiting list by disease state

If funding is not available, add the patient to your “waiting list” and separate by disease state. As soon as funding is available, you can easily revert to your list and apply for all.

Sign up for email notifications from foundations

This will give you a major advantage when funding is available, as you will be one of the first to know! Also, build contacts at specialty pharmacies and other concierge services that can keep you in the loop as to what is new and now available. Their team members are always searching for new and up to date information, which takes a ton off of your to-do list.

Dedicate a portion of your day to research

Assign one of your team members to do a daily search on your current resources to see what changes have been made, new grants that may be available, what has closed, and any new requirements for applying. Also make sure you are researching any new national or local organizations that may offer the assistance your patient needs. This is a huge help when you hit those inevitable brick walls.

Online resources that aggregate patient support offerings can be great, but they may not always be up to date. That doesn’t have to stop you from securing the assistance your patients need.

Build these best practices into your workflow to ensure you’re doing everything to support your patients in the best way possible.

What are some of your best practices for using online patient support websites? Let us know at

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About Tiffany Santiago:

Tiffany Santiago, CHeS, is Vice President and Director, Patient Support Services, H.O.P.E. Patient Concierge Services, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, FL; and Founder and President, Genesis Navigation, Sunrise, FL. At the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Science, Washington, DC, she obtained her Certified Health Education Specialist certification. As a patient navigator with more than 12 years of experience in the United States and 5 years internationally, she is dedicated to removing barriers from clinical research to insurance issues, to finding physicians, and understanding treatment and care options. At H.O.P.E., Ms. Santiago serves as the coach, cheerleader, and quarterback of her patients’ healthcare team, and works closely with family members and caregivers to mobilize resources, manage medical paperwork, and transition patients throughout the cancer care continuum.