What Is the Point of a Patient Advocate?
These days it can be scary and challenging to navigate the healthcare system. You may ask yourself, “Do I have the best care available for my current medical condition?” or “Should I seek a second opinion?” You may even question the need for a prescribed treatment or the value of an expensive prescription.
In such situations, you might need a patient advocate to stand by your side as you access the healthcare system. Patient advocacy is an expanding profession in the healthcare sector, but the concept dates back to the 1990s.
In this article, we’ll discuss what a patient advocate is and why you should hire one.
What is a Patient Advocate?
A patient advocate is a skilled professional who aids in navigating the healthcare system for you (or a loved one). Even though they may work for an insurance company, a hospital, a private business, a non-profit, or be self-employed, patient advocates represent your interests. They go by various names, like:
- Health advocate
- Patient or health navigator
- Care or case manager
Regardless of their name, they all have the same objective: to support you as you move through the healthcare process. When you hire a patient advocate, you can depend on them for anything from assisting you with a billing issue to visiting you every day while you’re in the hospital.What are the Reasons to Hire a Patient Advocate?
Below are some of the reasons or situations in which you should hire a patient advocate:
- In Case of Hospitalization or Surgery
When the stress of surgery or hospitalization is likely to occur, a patient advocate can assist you with every detail. To ensure everything runs smoothly, an advocate can go with you to your pre-op appointments, take notes, and ask questions. A patient advocate can look after you by keeping an eye out and documenting everything that happens while you are in the hospital.
Moreover, the patient advocate can handle any issues before, during, or after your hospital stay.
- In Case of Catastrophic Illness
A patient advocate can help you find a second opinion, which is essential for any scary diagnosis. He or she ensures that you are at ease with your physician and can assist you in developing a trusting relationship with your physician. Additionally, the patient advocate can bring questions to your appointments and accompany you to take notes.
Moreover, an advocate can educate you on new treatment options and even assist you in finding clinical trials. Having a good patient advocate by your side during a severe illness can avoid confusion, reduce stress, and deliver the best care possible.
- Assistance in Claiming Health Insurance
A patient advocate can help you identify why your health insurance was rejected. And to do that, they can speak with your insurance provider directly, particularly if there are any issues regarding the claim.
The advocate may speak with your insurance provider on your behalf and may even draft a letter that your doctor can use to appeal the denial of coverage. Most of the time, involving the doctor solves the issue, primarily when an appeal letter is written correctly. For these reasons, you can rely on your patient advocate to determine your exact needs and take whatever action is required to get you covered.
- Determining Whether Medical Bills are Correct
A patient advocate can determine whether your medical bills are accurate, whether insurance has provided the appropriate coverage, and even contact the providers to discuss your bill. If your bills are incorrect, the advocate can speak with the organizations charging you directly to discuss your bills and get the issues resolved. Additionally, a patient advocate can try to reduce costs as much as possible if bills are accurate but excessive.
- Seamless Communication with Multiple Physicians
If you see more than one doctor, you probably have multiple prescriptions. For this reason, you need better communication with all the doctors involved. A patient advocate can transmit information between doctors to protect you from prescription interactions and adverse effects. They can inform your doctors of any interactions or side effects to keep you safe.
Additionally, an advocate generally researches your prescriptions to inform you of their effects on your body. He can also communicate your medical needs to keep each doctor, helping them stay informed of your current health conditions.
Patient advocates assist people in speaking up for themselves within the healthcare system. They offer services like scheduling doctor appointments and treatments, settling medical bills, and scheduling follow-up care or second opinions. They also get answers to your questions about treatment, transportation, and prescription meds.
Hiring a patient advocate can help you save time, money, and stress. Having someone by your side during a medical emergency is a great asset, providing comfort while reducing stress.