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A version of this article appears in the May 1, issue of Fortune as part of the "Future of Health" package. See the rest of the package here. BY Fortune Staff.
Joe Biden. Atul Gawande. Nora Volkow. Jonathan Bush. Sean Duffy. Arianna Huffington. Rebecca Onie. Sean Parker. Kathy Giusti. Peter Hotez. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Seth Berkley. Michael T. Raj Panjabi. Greg Simon. Jim Allison. Jennifer Doudna right and Emmanuelle Charpentier. Geraldine Hamilton. Laura Niklason.
Michael Gilman. Katherine Kuzmeskas. Bryan Roberts of Venrock. Mark Bertolini. Sandi Peterson. Her doctors tell her the treatment may damage her eggs, make them infertile, or prompt premature menopause. The patient advocate helps educate the client about potential treatment side effects. Then the advocate consults with the client, helping her form in-depth questions for the doctor. Next, the advocate investigates local fertility treatment centers and sets up an appointment for the client to learn about egg freezing and other options for conceiving a child in the future.
However, many advocates join the field after experiencing illness personally or helping an ill family member in need. Regardless of what initially attracts people to the field, healthcare advocates need the right education, training, and skills to thrive in their positions. Patient advocacy encompasses many types of positions. However, positions that call for expert navigation of the healthcare system and the ability to aggressively advocate for patient rights require more education and training.
Those interested in how to become a healthcare advocate should consider the following degree programs and certifications:. It also cultivates the type of problem-solving skills healthcare advocacy work demands, while teaching the legal aspects of health care as well as the payment systems.
These degrees can also prepare people to advocate for healthcare policy. An advocate who becomes a Board Certified Patient Advocate demonstrates to potential employers and clients that they are competent and professional.
At the foundation of advocacy lies communication. Advocates must effectively communicate with patients and their families, healthcare providers, and insurance company representatives.
They need to break down the complexities of the healthcare system, diagnoses, treatment plans, and insurance policies into simple terms for patients. Emotionally charged situations may make it difficult for patients and their families to express themselves. As a result, patient advocates must pick up on body language and other nonverbal cues to get to the bottom of what patients are thinking and ask the right questions.
Advocates work with people who are often dealing with tough situations. Their clients may be confronting pain, crises, and confusion. Patient advocates need to listen and show empathy, as well as offer emotional support when appropriate.
Advocates must coordinate the many moving parts of each case they handle. This requires staying organized and managing their time well. Whether trying to help clients find medical coverage or dispute claim denials, patient advocates must think analytically and successfully gather the right information. While healthcare advocates may have areas of specialization, their cases often require them to work across the spectrum of advocacy services.
Facilitation sits at the heart of healthcare advocacy. Patient advocates do not make decisions for their clients, rather they make them aware of their options.
They cultivate a better understanding of the healthcare system by giving their clients background knowledge. They offer the type of support that helps patients get their questions answered and their problems addressed. Nonetheless, the need for individuals exclusively focused on patient advocacy has become clear.
Hospital patient advocates work as ombudsmen — support people who help address complaints and concerns — and serve patients within hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Their duties include:. Private case managers provide direct patient advocacy. They interact with patients, families, doctors, healthcare facilities, hospitals, and insurance companies. Private case managers either work independently or for advocacy organizations that assign them to client cases.
Private case managers may also advocate for patients who cannot get a diagnosis for their condition or cannot locate the necessary treatment. Government patient advocates work within state health systems.
They access services from Medicaid and Medicare. They also handle some of the same case management support offered by direct case managers. Healthcare advocacy can supply comfort, empowerment, and support to patients during challenging times. Cultivating the skills and knowledge needed to guide and advocate for patients effectively requires the right education.
Learn more about how an Online Master of Health Administration from Tulane University prepares graduates to help patients navigate the healthcare system and promote their rights. Elder, What Is Elder Care?
Patient Advocate, Private Case Management. What Is a Healthcare Advocate? Healthcare Advocacy on a Large Scale Healthcare advocacy on a large scale guides lawmakers and leaders who form healthcare policy. It supports a well-informed decision-making process regarding programs that affect: Healthcare providers Patients Healthcare environments Broad healthcare advocacy encourages reforms that put the newest research into practice and cultivate better partnerships within the healthcare industry.
For example: How can patients with dementia adequately arrange their own transition to a memory care unit? How can patients recovering from serious car accidents successfully coordinate their appointments for MRI scans with their visits to neurologists and orthopedic surgeons when they may be struggling to think clearly or be experiencing chronic pain?
A Patient Faces Challenges to Medication Management Prior to the COVID pandemic, a year-old woman with a heart condition attended events at a local community center and had an active social life. Patient Advocate Response The patient advocate arranges a conference call with the client and her doctors. A Cancer Patient Prefers No Further Hospital Stays A year-old patient with cancer who has a history of long hospital stays does not want to return to the hospital, despite his worsening health.
A Patient Deals with Conflicting Mammogram Feedback A month after a routine mammogram, a year-old woman receives a call from the facility that took the scans. Patient Advocate Response The patient advocate helps educate the client about potential treatment side effects. How to Become a Healthcare Advocate Healthcare advocates come from many backgrounds, including: Nursing Social work Hospital administration Law Patient care coordination However, many advocates join the field after experiencing illness personally or helping an ill family member in need.
Required Education and Training for Healthcare Advocates Patient advocacy encompasses many types of positions. Key Skills of Healthcare Advocates Regardless of their focus area, all healthcare advocates should possess the following skills: Communication Skills At the foundation of advocacy lies communication. Empathy Advocates work with people who are often dealing with tough situations.
Organizational Skills Advocates must coordinate the many moving parts of each case they handle. Specialized Skills Some areas of advocacy call for specialized skills sets and knowledge. They should also be well-versed in the different services older adults often need such as residential home care, nursing home care, and live-in home care. Advocates specializing in billing and insurance need solid math skills alongside in-depth knowledge of payer reimbursements, deductibles, and how to appeal insurance claim denials.
Those interested in medical advocacy should possess an understanding of patient safety, know how to investigate clinical trial opportunities, and have care coordination skills.
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