What is a Patient Advocate?
Patient advocacy is an emerging field that has developed as health care and life care transitions have become more complicated for seniors and the elderly. Patients often find themselves interacting with more than one doctor and more than one health care facility. Due to failing health, they may need more supports to stay at home or may need to transition to an alternative setting that offers more supports than can be provided in a home environment. Unfortunately, even the savviest patients and family members can find the health care system and life care transitions very challenging.
A patient advocate assists people in navigating the health care and life care systems. They work for the individual, helping them communicate with various health care professionals to ensure that everyone understands care needs. A patient advocate can help you understand a difficult diagnosis, help you with insurance claims, review your medical bills, and research care options.
Patient advocates first determine the needs of the patient, assess the situation, create a customized plan of care that reflects the patient’s wishes, and then help the patient convey their wishes to providers, facilities and family. Patient advocates work for seniors and elders and their families, as well as estate and trust planning attorneys. They are solution-focused and help you find services that fit the situation and let go of services no longer needed. They are a sounding board, provide education and are creative and innovative. Patient advocates charge fees for their services and these services are not typically covered by insurances.
Trisha Torrey of the Alliance for Professional Health Advocates (www.apha.org) offers this metaphor to help us better understand why a patient advocate is important. She writes, “Fifty years ago, if you wanted to buy a house, you found someone willing to sell, and the two of you worked out all the details. If you needed a mortgage, you got it. If you needed a lawyer to draw up the deed, then you hired one.
“But over the years, particularly as credit problems started to arise and the legal requirements got tougher, we began to see real estate brokers establish an expertise as the go-between — between the seller and the buyer. These brokers have a much larger bank of knowledge than someone who only buys or sells a home two or three times in a lifetime. They understand the process, know home values, mortgage options, negotiation — they know far more about everything related to the transaction of buying or selling a home than most of us do. Today, very few home transactions take place without a real estate broker to orchestrate them.
“Unfortunately, the healthcare system (no matter what country you live in) has become so tenuous that patients really do need a go-between to help them navigate. Doctors can’t do it alone anymore, nor can nurses. Without that expert to step in and shepherd us, we patients may succumb not to our disease or condition, but to the problems in the system that is intended to help us. There is excellent care available! But it takes these experts — these professional private patient advocates — to find it and make sure we patients access it.”
As a professional with extensive experience in the senior and elderly health care field, I know that many individuals and their families need immediate help during life care transitions. As a Patient Advocate, I am able to create a customized and highly flexible plan for every senior or elder served. I offer a free 15 to 20 minute consultation by phone. During this time, I will listen to you to gain an understanding of your situation. During this time, I will likely know how RS Consulting can assist you. I encourage you to contact me by calling (603) 733-6072 or simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information is available at www.rsconsulting.services.