Patient Advocacy

Patient advocacy is an area of lay specialization in health care concerned with advocacy for patients, survivors and caregivers. The patient advocate may be an individual or an organization, often, though not always, concerned with one specific group of disorders. The terms patient advocate and patient advocacy can refer both to individual advocates providing services that organizations also provide, and to organizations whose functions extend to individual patients.

Services

Patient Advocate Focus includes: patient rights, matters of privacy, confidentiality or informed consent, patient representation, awareness building, and support and education of patients, survivors and their close family members, including:

  • Acting as a liaison with health professionals, the family and the patient
  • Communicating with the family and patient so that they fully understand procedures
  • Providing literature or information that help the patient understand more about the process and care plan
  • Representing the patient’s wishes to seek the best care that honors them

Specialization

There is currently no accredited certification or licensing for patient advocacy in the United States. Yet, most Patient Advocates usually have a strong medical healthcare background with a specialty in the types of diseases and health conditions that they specialize in.

Preparation

You may wish to hire a Patient Advocate to ease the stress of navigating a difficult healthcare plan. By hiring a Patient Advocate you can ease the process of:

  • Sourcing the right doctor or healthcare professionals for the patient
  • Keeping a patient safe and honoring their wishes in the hospital
  • To give you guidance on finding the best course of action to take
  • To educate your family and bring them peace of mind

Evaluation

  • What is the Advocate’s level of experience for your loved one’s health condition?
  • What level of education and/or degrees do they possess?
  • Do they offer a complimentary initial consultation?
  • Assess how they charge- hourly?  Daily?  Weekly? Do they charge for travel time?
  • Are there family members who will be interacting with the advocate?Are they comfortable working within the family parameters?
  • How familiar are they with the healthcare community that your loved one must navigate through? Do they have relationships that can ease in the communication process?

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