A patient advocate is a person or an organization that helps individuals navigate the healthcare system and understand their medical conditions and treatments.
For example, a patient advocate can help patients understand the medications they need to take to treat an illness. They can also help patients find a second opinion after a diagnosis or locate a specialist to treat a specific condition.
A patient advocate is also often involved in the financial aspects of healthcare. They can provide insight into insurance policies, help patients find clinics that accept their insurance, and negotiate payment plans to cover uninsured procedures.
Some patient advocates are on the staff at large clinics or hospitals, while others work for independent organizations or public health agencies. The duties of all patient advocates are essentially the same, regardless of where they work. Still, those employed by hospitals or healthcare networks typically focus on helping patients navigate their employer’s services rather than all healthcare services available in a given city or state.
Here is a closer look at the role of a patient advocate and how they can help patients navigate the complex and sometimes-confusing healthcare system.
The Role of a Patient Advocate
A patient advocate can help at various stages of medical treatment. Their role can vary depending on the needs of each patient. In some cases, they may provide a particular service, such as helping you arrange to see a medical specialist. In other cases, they can help you understand each step of the diagnostic and treatment process.
Here is a look at the different types of assistance a patient advocate can provide:
- Patient advocates can act as a liaison between patients and medical providers. They can schedule appointments on the patient’s behalf and communicate any necessary information before the scheduled visits.
- A patient advocate can work with the insurance company to ensure coverage, negotiate prices on medical bills, and help patients understand their policies and out-of-pocket expenses.
- Advocates can also help patients understand their rights under current healthcare laws and ensure that the care and services that each patient receives meet minimum standards.
- Patient advocates explain complex medical information for patients. They can go over the various treatment options and ensure the patient has all the required information to decide how to proceed with their treatment plan.
- Patient advocates and physicians work together to coordinate the care plan. In some cases, such as for post-surgical recovery, they can organize home healthcare services and ensure communication with doctors and nurses during the recovery process.
- For patients with chronic conditions, a patient advocate helps manage the patient’s records and coordinate care between different physicians and specialists.
Patient advocates do not just work with patients in need of medication or surgery. They can also help facilitate home healthcare, assisted living, and recovery through rehabilitation or therapy.
Patient Advocates and Your Doctor
A patient advocate can act as a liaison between patients and their doctors. A patient advocate does not make any decisions about diagnosis or treatments, but they can explain the process to patients and ensure that they understand. They can also communicate the patient’s concerns or questions to the doctor.
When to Consider a Patient Advocate
Though most people consider patient advocates if they or a loved one has significant medical needs, everyone is entitled to utilize such services. Patient advocates are able to help with any healthcare-related concerns. For example, if you have questions about insurance coverage, you can contact a care advocate before you make an appointment with a physician.
Patient advocates can be especially vital for people who need ongoing, extensive, or complex care. They can help organize schedules and remind patients about appointments, medications, and treatment requirements. They can also ensure that each service is covered by insurance or help you arrange payment and understand billing.
A patient advocate can be helpful if you have surgery or experience trauma and need to go through rehabilitation and therapy. They can guide you through the different steps and handle the details so that you can focus on getting better rather than managing a complicated therapy schedule and calling your insurer to verify coverage.
Patients can get help directly for themselves, but it is also possible to hire a patient advocate to assist a loved one who needs ongoing care. Even if your loved one is at home with you, a patient advocate can work with you to organize all the necessary services, manage appointments, arrange prescriptions, and tend to other healthcare needs.
Find the Best Patient Advocate for You
A patient advocate should be a qualified, proven professional. Though they do not provide medical care, they will work as closely with you as any other healthcare provider, so you need to be sure that they have the skills to handle their duties.
A patient advocate needs to handle a diverse range of tasks, so they should have strong problem-solving skills and understand how to navigate the healthcare and insurance industries. An advocate should know enough about the industry to be able to anticipate issues, such as gaps in coverage, that may occur.
At the same time, patient advocates will work closely with you or your loved one, so they should be someone you feel comfortable with and who displays empathy.
Finally, a patient advocate should be easily reachable. You may meet them in person, but you should also be able to reach them via phone, chat app, email, or other means of communication. It can be helpful to work with a patient advocate service so that you can have access to multiple professionals who can provide the necessary level of care that you or your loved one needs.
Contact a Healthcare Advocate Today
Patient advocates can help you or your loved one navigate the complex healthcare system without confusion and access the best possible care. Finding a skilled and trustworthy advocate is essential. Care Weavers offers patient advocate services in the Charlotte area. Our providers are experienced in the healthcare industry and able to provide assistance and insights to help with your healthcare needs. Contact Care Weavers to find out more.