What Does a Patient Advocate Do?

What is the role of a patient advocate, and how vital are their duties?

Here is what patient advocates do.

The healthcare industry has a lot of professionals, each specializing in a specific area or aspect of healthcare.

These professionals may be involved in specialties like pediatrics, internal medicine, family medicine, and a long list of sub-specialties.

However, that isn’t the focus of our discussion.

What Do Patient Advocates Do?

Here, the goal is to figure out what patient advocates do.

Like other medical professionals, patient advocates offer a vital service hence the need to discuss the nature of such services.

If this profession sounds interesting, you might want to know what’s involved in the roles performed.

  • Who is a Patient Advocate?

As the name suggests, patient advocates perform vital functions involving acting as a liaison between patients and medical staff.

Also called professional health advocates, these professionals offer patient-centered services to needy persons.

Patients and their loved ones rely on these professionals for all kinds of assistance, like helping to communicate with doctors, working with insurance companies, and finding legal help where necessary.

Patient advocates handle these and other patient-focused tasks.

In a nutshell, patient advocates help cut through the red tape to get patients what they need. So, is this a profession for you? You might want to read along and figure out if it piques your interest.

Patient Advocates and Case Managers

In seeking to unravel the functions or roles of patient advocacy, clarifications need to be made regarding professions that are closely linked and often confused with patient advocacy.

One of those is case management. So, are patient advocates the same as case managers?

Not at all! While both professionals help patients navigate the healthcare system, patient advocates tend to have a more independent role.

In other words, patient advocates are independent contractors working directly with patients and their families.

Unlike patient advocates, case managers are employed mainly by healthcare organizations. That’s as far as we’ll go in highlighting the difference between the two.

With that said, let’s get to the meat of our discussion.

Duties of Patient Advocates

As earlier stated, patient advocates handle various tasks, all targeted at helping patients navigate the healthcare system with little difficulty.

When it comes to specific roles being performed, they include being present, educating patients, and updating medical teams.

Other patient advocates’ responsibilities include providing optimal care, ensuring safety, double-checking documentation, and connecting with patients’ families.

Patient advocates also offer resources, listen to patients, and check for errors. Let’s discuss each of these points.

i. Being Present

One of the primary responsibilities of patient advocates is to be present during essential situations like doctor rounds. The doctor may inform the patient about the diagnosis and treatment during this time.

Here, the patient advocates help offer explanations while also assisting the patient in asking relevant questions.

A patient advocate may also ask for a more detailed explanation from professionals for better communication.

ii. Educating Patients

Patient education is another crucial function of patient advocates as they inform clients (patients) about their medical condition.

These professionals help simplify complicated medical terminology to help patients understand their medical condition.

What more? Patient advocates attend to all questions raised by the patients while helping to review medications and accompanying instructions.

iii. Updating Medical Teams

To promote enhanced medical care for patients, patient advocates have to provide any updates regarding the patient’s condition to the medical team.

Such vital information may include specific patient concerns or wishes, changes in patient symptoms, and mood changes.

Various communication channels are leveraged to ensure the information is effectively relayed and appropriate actions taken.

iv. Provision of Optimal Care

Patient advocates are about ensuring the patient gets the best possible care available.

These professionals are observant and pay attention to detail regarding patient care. Their focus is on the well-being of the patient.

Patient advocacy has as its goal the treatment of patients with dignity, respect, and compassion.

A patient advocate ensures that proper procedures are followed, and thorough care is administered to the patient.

v. Ensuring Safety

As a patient advocate, one of your primary responsibilities is the well-being of patients.

Such is achieved by reducing hazards around the facility and keeping an eye to ensure medical personnel follows proper procedures.

What more? Patient advocates ensure the proper storage of all medical equipment. All such actions are geared towards improving safety around the patient.

vi. Double-Checking Documentation

Whenever patients are admitted to a medical facility, all kinds of documentation and paperwork are involved.

Through patient advocacy, such paperwork, charting, or documentation are closely addressed by working closely with other medical professionals.

This action avoids oversights, errors, misinformation, and conflicting orders, thus helping with better treatment outcomes.

vii. Connecting with Patient’s Families

Patient advocates not only work closely with patients but also with their families to ensure helpful resources are at their disposal.

This may involve providing detailed information regarding support services offered by the hospital or local community where the health institution is situated.

viii. Offer Resources

Patients connect to valuable resources like transport, financial assistance, caregiving, securing home supplies, and filling take-home prescriptions through advocacy.

What more? Patient advocates help with discharge paperwork and examine generic prescription brands for affordability.

ix. Listen to Patients

Patient needs are better attended to by first listening. This is where patient advocacy comes into play.

By listening intently to patient concerns or requests, these advocates can better communicate with professionals about the patient’s feelings, which could go a long way in impacting medical diagnosis.

x. Checking for Errors

Simple errors can turn out to be costly to patients when not carefully looked at.

Patient advocates help double-check patient records and treatment protocols for possible flagging of mistakes. Such errors may include conflicting orders between medical team members.

Based on the responsibilities discussed above, it’s easy to see why patient advocates are crucial in aiding patients with better medical care and recovery.

So, do you find this interesting?

If you do, you might want to pursue a career in this field.

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