Advocating on Behalf of the Patient
Patient advocacy is an area of specialization in the health care industry concerned with patient education, medical care, and the importance of providing the highest level of patient centered care. The healthcare field is constantly evolving and changing, and as such, it’s important for patients to have a voice, to feel like they have representatives within the industry who are looking out for their best interests. Who can protect their rights, and advocate on their behalf, assisting them in navigating through the confusing maze that is our healthcare system.
Advocacy on behalf of patients can include organizations such as the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship or the American Cancer Society, two organizations that focus on a specific aspect of health care, are classified as non profits, and develop their own advocacy and promotional awareness campaigns. In addition to producing health related literature and providing access to important health related informational services and resources to patients.
Individual patient advocates, in most cases, act as representatives for patients. Providing them with resources and tools, as well as a voice, to ensure that patients get the type of health care treatment they deserve and are entitled too. To guarantee that patients have access to services, resources and options that enable them to make the most out of their healthcare experience. This allows patients to be more proactive when it comes to their health and to get directly involved in their own health care. Individual advocates come in a variety of forms with a plethora of a different professional backgrounds. They may be case managers, social workers, nurses, or health care professionals whose experience in the health care field enables them with the opportunity to assist patients in making better sense of the health care system, to ensure optimum care. Helping patients navigate through the mass of health insurance companies, government agencies, health care providers, and federal regulations, attempting to make sense of the industry.
Services provided to patients through the efforts of patient advocacy representatives and programs include transportation, financial aid and assistance, health care materials and important health information and resources, physicians, therapists, helpful online resources, self-education workshop and activities, etc. There’s a great deal that is placed into the hands of patients when it comes to their health care that includes, understanding health insurance plans, the organization of the health care industry, regulations relative to each US state and the list goes on. It’s important for patients to be educated on the ins and outs of the health care industry, for when a sudden health emergency arises they will have the necessary knowledge, tools, and resources, to navigate their way through such a crisis.
Martine Ehrenclou, acclaimed author, patient advocate, and current member of the Simms/Mann – UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology Advisory Board, spoke at one of our most recent Insights into Cancer lectures. Her presentation, inspired by her new book, “How to Become a Take Charge Patient,” highlighted the importance for patients to get actively involved in their own health care. She encourages patients to become advocates for themselves or to find someone who will advocate on their behalf. An advocate may be a family member, spouse, relative, or good friend. A good advocate should be someone that is available, attentive, detail oriented, assertive, diplomatic and supportive, as well as being a calm and patient person. An effective advocate is someone you trust, who is willing to act on that patient’s behalf as well as someone who can work well with other members of the patient’s healthcare team such as doctors, therapists, and nurses. Hospitals usually have professionals who fall under the category of patient advocates that include social workers, nurses, chaplains, that can also fill the role of being a representative for the patient.
To see Martine’s full presentation click here. For more information on what types of resources and organizations are advocating on behalf of patients follow the links below: