The Power of a Professional Healthcare Advocate and Why You Need One in Your Corner
In this day and age, the sheer magnitude and complexity of the healthcare system in the United States is overwhelming. No longer do we rely on our family physician to take care of every aspect of our care. As science has made huge strides in the parameters of medicine, the breadth and scope of care has broadened in a way that challenges even the most educated of us. With specialists in every field imaginable, state of the art technology and cutting edge diagnostic and treatment options rapidly evolving, maneuvering the landscape of healthcare is confusing, overwhelming and many times downright frightening. A professional healthcare advocate can make a huge impact on quality of care and steer you towards the best outcome possible.
On a daily basis, patients and families struggle with a new diagnosis and the complexities of that diagnosis overwhelm them. They struggle to comprehend what is being said to them and ramifications for the patient and family are still unknown. With a lack of direction for next steps, it is often clear that the battle is just beginning and they are ill-equipped to engage.
Healthcare Advocacy has been around for a while in an unofficial way, as friends and family members have stepped up to the plate to be there for someone they care about. However, Healthcare Advocacy as a profession is in its infancy. The idea of paying a professional to advocate for you is new. It is important to understand how a Healthcare Advocate can play an educated, experienced, supportive role in helping a patient and their family navigate the healthcare system.
What do Health Advocates do?
- Support you and your family during a health crisis.
- Support, respect and promote the rights and preferences of the patient in the healthcare arena.
- Educate you and your family about your or a loved one’s current medical condition so you have a complete understanding of the ramifications, research treatment options, procedures, doctors, hospitals or other facilities needed. This will alleviate the understandable feelings of being vulnerable and powerless in the face of a healthcare crisis.
- Assist with managing your healthcare needs, whether due to a current crisis or on a daily basis and keep you informed on clinical status, progress and prognosis. They facilitate autonomy, independence and promote health and wellness.
- Target your needs and expedite your care by identifying specific actions necessary.
- Act as a liaison between you and your healthcare providers to ensure safe, quality care. They listen, ask questions and voice concerns.
- Assist with paperwork, whether billing or insurance.
- Guarantee knowledgeable access to the best care necessary.
Why You Need a Healthcare Advocate
The National Academy of Medicine defines patient-centered care as: “Providing care that is respectful of, and responsive to, individual patient preferences, needs and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.”
All of us across the continuum of care, at one time or another in our life, have been in a healthcare situation where we were at a complete loss. We were worried, afraid, and vulnerable. Where do we go, who do we turn to, what next? Sometimes minor problems, other times life threatening, which impacted us in powerful ways.
That is why you need a Healthcare Advocate. Someone with a deep understanding of the system, how to interpret and maneuver through it, and use it to your best advantage. Someone to promote your ability to make sound decisions that are clear and concise, that you are comfortable with.
A professional Health Advocate has patient-centered care at the very core of the service they provide. They work for and with the patient, not in an adversarial relationship with the system. They help mediate conflict and misunderstanding, gain understanding and trust on both sides, and build a bridge of cooperation. Health Advocates provide an in-depth understanding of what the patient and the system need to ensure the very best care for that particular situation in a researched and resourced way.
Benefits of a Healthcare Advocate
When it comes to your health, you should never leave the decisions you make up to chance. Those decisions you make can have life altering effects. Let a professional, with years in the healthcare system, help you navigate, using the compass of knowledge and experience. While that cannot guarantee a positive outcome, it WILL guarantee the best outcome for the situation because it is founded in research, understanding and fact.
Investing in a Healthcare Advocate not only ensures personal support for you and your family, it ensures an experienced, targeted approach to analyzing, researching and identifying the best approach to your healthcare challenge. The value of this is expedited and cost effective care. Simply put, a health advocate will get you to the right people at the right time, saving unnecessary steps, time and money.
It is important to note that at this time there is no federal or state licensing requirements or national accreditation/certification for healthcare advocates. It is imperative that you do your research into the background and experience of someone you are considering to be your health advocate.
While healthcare advocacy is new as a profession, it is a vital link to ensuring that everyone has the tools to become an educated healthcare consumer. This in turn not only protects the patient, but guides the system into being the best it can be. Healthcare is a concern for every single one of us. A qualified Healthcare Advocate will hold the system, and all in it, to a high standard of care, guaranteeing transparency, understanding, and educated choices, benefiting both the system and the patient. It is a win win for all.