Patient Advocacy: Understanding and Navigating Your Personal Health Care

Although Patient Advocacy is not a new concept, it seems that there are many who are unclear about what Patient Advocacy involves. It’s not uncommon to ask:

  • What does a Patient Advocate do?
  • How do I know if I need a Patient Advocate?
  • Are there different types of Patient Advocacy services?
  • Can they help me understand my Doctor’s instructions?

At its core, Patient Advocacy is a service designed to help you, the healthcare consumer. This help come in many different forms and is highly personalized to meet your specific needs. You don’t have to have a significant, chronic condition to benefit from Patient Advocacy. And in fact, you may not even be considered a “Patient” to utilize the services available.

So, let’s take a closer look at how Patient Advocacy works.

What does a Patient Advocate do?

A Patient Advocate wears many different hats and utilizes his or her clinical expertise along with his or her knowledge and experiences in the healthcare system to help you make decisions about your health and well-being. On the one hand, this involves providing you with clarification and guidance as you navigate the healthcare system. On the other hand, the Patient Advocate can assert your wishes and help healthcare providers understand your position.

In other words, a Patient Advocate can help you regain a sense of control when healthcare becomes complicated or confusing.

How do I know if I need a Patient Advocate?

There is no simple answer to this question. The best way to determine if a Patient Advocate can be beneficial to you is to ask for a consultation. A consultation should be just that – a meeting with a medical professional to gain education and advice. Based on this consultation, you will be empowered to make this decision for yourself.

Are there different types of Patient Advocacy services?

Certainly! Patient Advocacy can involve a wide variety of issues impacting your well-being. For example:

  • Medical Terminology and Procedures can be confusing and intimidating. Oftentimes, people are afraid to ask questions for many reasons. A Patient Advocate will help you understand what treatment is being recommended and empower you to make the best decisions for yourself.
  • Care Management starts with an assessment by your Patient Advocate. He or she will work with you to sort through different options available in order to  create a plan. Based on your wishes, your Patient Advocate will then help implement your personalized plan. This may include scheduling doctor visits and follow ups, monitoring your medications or identifying and communicating with additional therapies (Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy Occupational Therapy) as needed.
  • Health Profiles or Life Docs can be developed with you and managed/ They can be used to centralize all of your health information and medical history, which can invaluable to clinicians, particularly in emergencies where medical error can be a risk
  • Health, Wellness and Lifestyle guidance is an invaluable service provided by Patient Advocates. Helping you find health facilities, gyms or specific exercise programs can help you live your life to the fullest. Helping you create a balanced, nutritional diet and integrating other wellness activities not only impacts you physical well-being but provides unforeseen emotional benefits as well.

Can they help me understand my Doctor’s instructions?

If you’d like, your Patient Advocate will accompany you on your doctor visits. Once there, the Patient Advocate can help you communicate with your physician by clarifying the more clinical terms. Your Patient Advocate will also assert your wishes and provide a layer of communication that your doctor will understand. The Patient Advocate will also help you understand the medications or treatments prescribed and provide feedback to your doctor if an issue arises with the prescribed plan.

How is Patient Advocacy related to Premium Home Care?

Premium Home Care involves a team of individuals providing support to you or your loved one in their home. This team includes clinicians (RNs or PTs) who work to ensure your wellbeing and safety. A large part of ensuring you or your loved one’s wellbeing involves engaging and communicating with you. The depth of this engagement is your decision. Patient Advocacy services can be integrated into your plan of care or provided as a separate service through your Premium Home Care Provider. In other words, whether you are receiving Home Care Services through Broad Street or through another Home Care service provider, Patient Advocacy services are available to you.

If you have any questions about Patient Advocacy or to request a consultation, Broad Street is there to help.

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