What is a patient advocate?

What is a patient advocate?

When most people hear the word "advocate," they think of the efforts, even struggles, of individuals who take action to influence government programs and policies. Although many people engage in this type of advocacy, organizing to put pressure on policymakers and officials, advocacy can also take place on a more personal level.

At a core level, advocacy is simply making the case that something is important and needs to be done. When families advocate for themselves or a loved one, that's what they're doing—presenting information and making requests in a focused way to ensure that something important gets done.

Who serves as patient advocates?

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, sometimes called ombudsmen. Scott Health Advisory provides Physician Advocates, which you'll learn about below.

Why do I need an advocate?

For many, the healthcare system has become almost unrecognizable. Your doctor spends so little time with you and it feels like you don't have enough time to get your questions answered.

In other cases, none of your doctors talk to each other and no one coordinates your care. They send you for so many tests; do you really need them all? What happens if you are misdiagnosed or there is a mistake in your care? And with some advanced treatments costing hundreds of thousands and not covered by insurance, what should patients do?

Enter professional patient advocates; independent, empathetic, capable navigators and negotiators. People who can help you get the care you want and need while keeping your costs under control.

Advocates help patients navigate the complexities of the healthcare system, from diagnostics to treatment. If you have ever helped a friend or a loved one when they've faced a disease, you have served as an advocate.

Advocacy can include something as simple as helping an aging parent manage the doctor's appointments, or it could involve the pursuit of new diagnostic or treatment technologies for a disease, by communicating with researchers, academics, and clinicians.

Basic advocacy begins at home, but for complex situations, it's a good idea to use a professional advocate with experience navigating the challenges of the healthcare system. While many patient advocates are dedicated professionals or nurses, Scott Health Advisory takes the concept a step further, providing Physician-Guide Patient Advocacy. Each step of your care is carefully reviewed and assessed by a board-certified physician, ensuring that everything from insurance billing to diagnostics to rehabilitation are properly managed.