What is Patient Advocacy?
Special note: It is important to distinguish independent patient advocates from medical system or hospital-based advocates. Independent advocates work directly for the patient and are not beholden to insurance companies, hospitals, or providers.
Independent patient advocacy is a profession in which trained individuals help others navigate the healthcare system. You may also hear the terms Health Advocacy, Health Navigation, or Patient Navigation. Professional advocates are trained to guide and support you, while removing emotion from important decisions. In a nutshell, advocates fill the gaps that are ever-present in today’s healthcare system.
Many patient advocates focus on specific areas of healthcare like insurance/billing, aging seniors, pediatrics, cancer care, or a certain disease space. Some patient advocates provide virtual services outside their geographic location while others only do in-person work.
Hospital-based patient advocacy is limited to the services available in the hospital system, the financial constraints of said system, and those in the profession ultimately work for the hospital, not the patient. There is certainly a time and place for hospital-based advocates, but once you are discharged, they are unable to assist you.