Can a patient advocate help you?

Patient advocates provide support and help navigate health care considerations for patients.

Advocates come from a variety of educational and career backgrounds. However, they all share a common goal of making sure patients receive the highest quality of care. Any person can benefit from the assistance of a patient advocate. However, there are certain situations and types of patients where an advocate is especially helpful.

Many patients need relief in resolving their medical concerns and clarifying tests, procedures and treatment options. Patient advocates aid in these areas by solely representing the needs of those receiving medical care. If you are undergoing medical treatment, then you may find comfort in the service of a professional or personal advocate. Consider the benefits of having an established helper to represent your interests. Learn about the importance of patient advocates with the following information.

What are patient advocates?

Patient advocates work with health care teams to represent the needs of patients. The goal of a patient advocate is to look out for the best interest of the client. These individuals can be professionals who work in health care settings or personal advocates representing a loved one. Both types of advocates bring special skills and benefits to medical situations.

Many professional patient advocates are nurses, social workers, doctors or caregivers specifically hired for the job by hospitals. Patients can consult hospitals to learn about the availability of advocates within the institution. While professional advocates are hired by hospitals, their main focus is ensuring comfort for those being treated for health issues. Nurses who simultaneously act as advocates are often able to offer exceptional support to patients. This is because they understand the inner workings and daily activities in their institution of employment.

Personal advocates are usually relatives or loved ones acting as a liaison between the patient and medical staff. These advocates often know the patient personally and understand their needs and health care wishes. They often help their loved one consider treatment decisions and make medical decisions. Seniors, foreign-language speakers and children are examples of individuals who may need a friend or relative to act as a patient advocate.

The duties of a patient advocate vary widely. Depending on the situation, they may provide differing degrees of service. Common duties of patient advocates include clarifying patient options for doctors and hospitals, explaining tests and procedures and helping the patient make treatment options. When necessary, advocates will gather information and ask questions on behalf of the client. They may write down important information and questions to consider in the future. In certain situations, these individuals ensure the wishes of the patient are being carried out when they are unable to make decisions themselves.

Benefits of Patient Advocates

Patients in a wide range of medical situations can find assistance in the use of an advocate. Those who feel overwhelmed, confused or simply want support can greatly benefit from these services. By acting as a representative, advocates ensure that the needs of a client or loved one are respected and implemented. When treatment options are complicated, the clarity provided by a patient advocate is helpful in making medical decisions.

The patient advocate often acts as a caregiver for a person, addressing their personal requests and ensuring comfort in a medical setting. Many professional advocates have prior experience in health care settings that enable them to address specific demands that may arise. Personal advocates representing loved ones are often highly aware of the quality of care provided to the patient, such as parents advocating for their children. Advocates must be able to gain the trust of the person they are representing and take the decision making role seriously.

Another benefit of a professional or personal advocate is simply acting as a support system. For many undergoing medical treatments, the presence and care of an advocate is a huge relief. Hospital stays can be uncomfortable and lonely. In addition, patients who are not feeling like themselves because of health issues can greatly benefit from personal assistance. Having loyalty and encouragement when undergoing medical procedures can make a positive impact on the overall experience and recovery process.

Advocates can act as an additional witness for appointments and meetings with medical staff. By paying attention to the information provided during these interactions, they can take note of important details. Additionally, in situations where the patient may forget or fail to ask relevant questions, advocates can speak up on their behalf.

Finding a Patient Advocate

If you are interested in the services of a patient advocate, then there are certain factors that should first be considered. Most importantly, choosing an advocate who you can trust ensures you will receive the highest level of care and attentiveness. Receiving honest and dependable assistance can bring you peace of mind throughout your medical experience. This is especially relevant in situations where you do not feel comfortable or are treated badly by medical staff.

There are varying benefits to employing a personal or professional advocate. Although you may not know a professional advocate, their experience in health care often provides exceptional preparation for the role. On the other hand, personal advocates are often loved ones with whom you have already established trust. A personal advocate may be a natural choice if the individual is the one who sought medical help for the friend or family member. While personal advocates may pick up on subtle needs that arise, they may not be as prepared to navigate a hospital setting. Overall, your choice lies in your particular wishes.

When you have selected the most fitting patient advocate for your situation, be clear about what his or her duties will be. Their level of involvement is entirely up to you. Do you want them making treatment decisions? Will they be present for any test results? Consider what forms of assistance are more beneficial to your situation. Developing clear lines for the duties of your advocate ensures you remain in control of your health.

Be sure to inform medical staff, family members and insurance companies of your decision. Your doctor should fully understand the responsibilities and boundaries established for your patient advocate. Instituting a line of communication between the advocate and involved medical staff creates a professional relationship.

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