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What is a Patient Advocate?






     A patient advocate is an individual who assists patients through the diagnosis and treatment of a disorder or disease and helps them navigate the often murky waters of the health care system. Oftentimes, patient advocates have extensive experience in the health care and social work fields and simply want to shift their careers in a different direction.

Being a patient advocate can involve a variety of tasks and may include helping patients find the right types of medical professionals for their particular health concerns, coordinating appointments with doctors, nurses, or other health care providers, and helping patients decide which types of physician-recommended treatments may best help relieve their specific symptoms. Additionally, some patient advocates may perform various other duties, particularly if they choose to work with specific populations of people, such as the elderly or children.

Qualities of a Good Patient Advocate

Working as a patient advocate requires an individual with a variety of skills, a high level of professionalism, and the ability to interact with many types of individuals and organizations. Many advocates come from backgrounds rich in nursing, social work, and education, while others have gained valuable personal experience helping a loved one navigate the health care system and want to expand their experience into a viable career.

Patient advocacy is best suited for people who:

Enjoy helping others

Can get along with many types of patients, as well as their families and medical professionals

Can work effectively under pressure

Have a lot of patience

Have good time management and organizational skills

Can be assertive, but polite

Additionally, if an individual prefers to work with the insurance and billing aspects of patient advocacy, he or she will need an understanding of how reimbursements, deductibles, co-insurances, and co-pays work. Having a working knowledge of government health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid is also important.

Who Employs Patient Advocates?

Many patient advocates are volunteers, working simply for the satisfaction that comes from helping others; some are self-employed and run their own advocacy businesses; and others work directly for individual patients. Someone who works for a patient is often hired by the patient's family to not only help the patient find suitable treatment and payment options, but also to be a caring stand-in for family members who may live too far away or whose work schedules don't allow them to aid the patient as much as needed.

Other businesses and organizations that hire patient advocates include:

Government entities

Not-for-profit organizations

Insurance companies

Common Challenges Associated with Being a Patient Advocate

While the concept of helping people find the best care and negotiate reasonable health care costs is admirable, individuals who are considering becoming patient advocates should know that the job does come with some challenges.

For starters, the field of patient advocacy is relatively new, and while this career is on track to be one of the more popular ones in the coming years, many medical providers do not quite understand the role a patient advocate plays. As a result, many advocates particularly those that work for an individual patient are regarded suspiciously and may not be warmly welcomed in certain settings.

Due to these challenges, anyone considering entering the patient advocacy field should be prepared to exhibit exceptional communication skills and have a deep, working knowledge about many aspects of the health care system. If a patient advocate has a firm grasp on these skills and is prepared to work hard, he or she can look forward to a stimulating career, both professionally and financially.

Taylor Thomas is an experienced writer who has written for a number of notable publications. As a lifestyle expert, Mr. Thomas is able to offer advice and insight on a multitude of topics, including those pertaining to patient education and advocacy .

Taylor Thomas is an experienced writer who has written for a number of notable publications and is able to offer advice and insight on a multitude of topics, including patient education and advocacy. http://www.healthgrades.com/group-directory/pennsylvania-pa/wayne/laser-spine-institute-9961d422




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Taylor Thomas is an experienced writer who has written for a number of notable publications. As a lifestyle expert, Mr. Thomas is able to offer advice and insight on a multitude of topics, including those pertaining to patient education and advocacy .


Posted on 2013-06-05, By: *

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