Navigating the world of medical care alone can feel like a daunting task. It’s for this reason that patient advocates exist. Excellent patient advocates help a patient achieve their needs, promote dignity, and secure independence. As those tasks require a unique skillset and consistent determination, research and vetting are important while trying to find your ideal candidate. Here are some top factors to consider when looking for a patient advocate in Charlotte.

A Broad Understanding of Patient Needs

Patient advocacy is about much more than communicating what a patient wants to their care provider(s). The right candidate must dig deep into their patient’s unique medical needs, capabilities, and social circumstances. For example, while one patient may find being discharged into their community easy due to broad family support, another might require a phased approach to assimilate to life outside of a hospital. Excellent patient advocates understand such requirements, so they tailor their strategy accordingly.

Patient advocates should also understand their patient’s insurance, billing, and affordability. They’ll know where insurance denials are likely to occur, so they’ll help their patient find the right treatments accordingly. When it comes to issues such as ongoing treatment plans and medications, they’ll ensure their patient receives something affordable for them. 

When understanding their patient’s needs, an advocate will focus on each client as an individual. As such, when interviewing prospective candidates, you should focus on those who treat their clients as unique persons. In doing so, the right person ensures an experience that’s both comfortable and practical. For example, excellent advocates know how much explanation their clients need when it comes to medical jargon. 

Strong Communication Skills

Explaining medical jargon to their clients is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to an advocate’s communication skills. When looking for the right candidate, focus on those who can tailor their communication with whom they’re conversing. They need to appropriately communicate with the patient, a variety of care providers, insurance specialists, and relatives. 

Strong communication skills move beyond being able to converse with a range of individuals alone. A healthcare advocate must know how to receive and relay information to relevant parties on time. When they attend appointments with their clients, they also need to retain everything that’s said. In a lot of cases, they will also need to approach challenging conversations in an appropriate manner. Such discussions can include addressing their concerns with a care plan and asking a family to step back and be less intrusive.

When looking for strong communication skills, ask prospective candidates how they’ve handled challenging conversations in the past. You may also want to ask them about what strong communication means to them and how they tailor their approach to various parties. It’s also a good idea to focus on a candidate who has experience communicating on behalf of a client in a relevant area.

Relevant Patient Advocate Experience

Searching a patient advocacy database should direct you towards potential candidates with experience. However, to secure the best outcome for the patient, you should focus on those with experience in a relevant field. For example, if someone is receiving treatment for bowel cancer, then an advocate in that area is most suitable. This is because they’ll already understand the jargon, potential recovery challenges, unique billing requirements, and concerns their patients may commonly have.

If possible, try to narrow your search down to those who have experience with a relevant patient profile too. For example, if the patient requires care for specific chronic conditions, finding an advocate with expertise in those areas can eliminate some of their stresses. While the right patient advocate should always treat their clients as individuals, having background knowledge of certain conditions makes it easier for them to anticipate challenges and ask appropriate questions.

You may also want to look into an advocate’s credentials. As the role has grown in recent years, more courses have become available. Additionally, some advocates have experience in the medical and nursing fields but have chosen to turn to an advocacy career instead. When looking for a patient advocate in Charlotte, the agency you select should confidently advertise their candidates’ credentials, or they should be willing to discuss them with you.

A Firm Focus on Patient Ethics

Beyond looking into the practical elements of your candidate, make sure you dig into their ethics. Overall, they need to treat all patients as equals. Although it’s okay to focus on a patient’s unique capabilities, achieving true equality means promoting every client’s independence and autonomy as much as possible. This means respecting a patient’s decision-making capacity and encouraging them to become key decision-makers in their own care wherever possible.

Consider whether you or the patient you’re seeking an advocate for has religious beliefs or other values. Ideally, the patient advocate you choose will have experience with those beliefs and values. If they don’t, they should show respect for them and a determination to learn more about what they mean to their patients. Experiencing care that aligns with values can significantly impact patient outcomes, even when facing challenging circumstances.

When looking for the right candidate, consider what ethical care means to the patient and examine whether the service provider shares the same views. If they do, you may be looking at the ideal candidate for your circumstances.

Find the Right Patient Advocate

Patient advocates are strong individuals who can consistently help their clients achieve their medical needs. In addition to understanding what their patient requires, they must be able to communicate consistently and clearly with a range of individuals. Ideally, the advocate will also have relevant experience and share the same ethics and values as their client. If you’re looking for a patient advocate in Charlotte, contact us so we can begin your recruitment journey.