Role of the Patient Advocate
A time of illness is a stressful time for patients as well as for their families. The best-laid plans can go awry, judgment is impaired, and, put simply; you are not at your best when you are sick. Patients need someone who can look out for their best interests and help navigate the confusing healthcare system–in other words, an advocate.
An advocate is a “supporter, believer, sponsor, promoter, campaigner, backer, or spokesperson.” It is important to consider all of these aspects when choosing an advocate for yourself or someone in your family. An effective advocate is someone you trust who is willing to act on your behalf as well as someone who can work well with other members of your healthcare team such as your doctors and nurses.
An advocate may be a member of your family, such as a spouse, a child, another family member, or a close friend. Another type of advocate is a professional advocate. Hospitals usually have professionals who play this role called Patient Representatives or Patient Advocates. Social workers, nurses and chaplains may also fill this role. These advocates can often be very helpful in cutting through red tape. It is helpful to find out if your hospital has professional advocates available, and how they may be able to help you.
The biggest issue when one utilizes the service of an advocate employed by the hospital or facility you are dealing with is that they answer to the hospital and, even though helpful, not to you or your family. A conflict of interest prevails in this situation.
Over the last several years many universities and colleges have been offering advanced training and certification programs for professional patient advocates. These individuals must pass numerous classes ranging from medical bioethics to conflict resolution. After passing these courses they become Certified Patient Advocates and on a fee bases fulfill the role overseer of patient care on behalf of the patient and their family.
Senior Benefit Solutions has filled the role of advocate for its client’s and has established working relationships with several independent Certified Patient Advocate groups and individuals.
Make sure your voice is heard and your needs are taken care of.