Patient advocates provide a next step when people cannot figure out what with their healthcare decisions. Advocates help find the right healthcare providers and help patients understand what’s happening at appointments.
Earlier this year, I wrote about the feeling of isolation my family felt after getting a diagnosis that a family member had a chronic condition. We were left with a mountain of questions and a big bill.
The interview itself provides a lot of context around the ways that healthcare providers can interact with patient advocates. It also touches on how big a shift this profession is for the industry of healthcare.
In this piece, I’d like to focus on how a patient advocate can help you if you are a patient or if you have a loved one that is dealing with medical issues.
Patient Advocates Help You Figure Out the Next Step
In our family’s situation of finding out that we had a chronic patient in our family, we were presented with a test that we’d need to take and a large bill.
Only after paying off that large bill and talking to several people in the community did we find out that we had an alternative to paying so much out of pocket. Friends pointed us to financial aid resources and facilities that were more accommodating to our needs.
It was an expensive lesson!
It would have been even more expensive had we not learned what else was possible.
Since we went through our experience, the role of the patient advocate has become more defined and the career has become more common.
Now, I would have started a search with a few different patient advocacy directories: Advo Connection and NAHAC. If I couldn’t find someone in either of those directories, then I would go to the search engine and look for “patient advocate” in my city.
A patient advocate could have helped me figure out financing options and state-run assistance options. What’s more, the advocate could also help me connect with the relevant patient community.
In a time where more and more patients are using crowd-fundraising tools like GoFundMe and Indiegogo to pay for treatments, this is a huge breakthrough. Patient advocates cost money in order to get personalized help. Still, the cost savings is potentially thousands of dollars.
Patient Advocates Can Help with Elderly Parents’ Doctor Appointments
One of the most interesting things we discussed with Bonnie in the episode is how she will attend doctor appointments for some of her elderly patients.
The use-case scenario is that an adult with an elderly parent is unable to attend all of his parent’s doctor appointments. Unfortunately, his parent is unable to keep up with all of the pertinent details from the appointment.
Enter the patient advocate.
The advocate attends the appointment with permission from the patient. The advocate can then keep up with all of the important notes and ask important questions.
We’re entering a time when a large population is having to become the caregivers in their families. Lots of people are trying to tackle this problem, including healthcare organizations, insurance companies, and small businesses.
As all of these new solutions become available, they are all trying to grab the attention of the already over-stressed caregiver.
The big news here is that solutions exist.
When you’re in the midst of a healthcare crisis, it doesn’t feel like there are any solutions out there. But there are.
Start with your doctor. Talk to her or him about your needs.
If you don’t find everything you need, try a patient advocate.