What is Patient Advocacy?
Patient advocacy can be defined as any activity the will benefit a patient ultimately.
Therefore when considering patient advocacy, it can focus on one individual or to a group of individuals. The purpose of patient advocates is to gather information and present it to those who are involved in battling disease and treatment management.
Federal Government Advocacy Programs
There are numerous organizations that have been created to advocate on behalf of patients. On the federal level the government has instituted the Health and Human Services to oversee and improve the safety and quality of health care being provided to Americans. Another important branch of the Department of Health and Human Services is the National Institute of Health. The NIH is responsible for conducting and supporting medical research. Also under the HHS umbrella you find the Centers for Disease Control that are responsible for protecting the Health of Americans.
Not for Profit Advocacy Groups
Many of these groups are well know for efforts to educate the American people about diseases, their causes and treatments. Some may be groups that you already support in your local community such as but no limited to The American Cancer Society, The Alzheimer’s Association, The American Heart Association and the list goes on and on.
Some organizations have made it there purpose to advocate (or sometimes its referred to as lobbying) on behalf of patients rights and concerns such as healthcare consumerism, and all important patient safety.
For Profit Advocacy Groups
As patients have become more proactive in the areas of their care and treatment, several organizations have sprung up over the last few years that offer to help patients and their families navigate through the process of getting the healthcare they need, and assisting with the many dimensions that quality care involves. These types of organizations are staffed by individuals with various types of knowledge that all play apart in receiving the proper healthcare and treatment. These groups can consist of lawyers, healthcare professionals, financial advisors or even those from the insurance industry.
Patient Advocates found in Hospitals
Under the area of customer service many hospitals provide staff that are commonly known as patient advocates. They can assist patients and their families with issues that they come up against in regards to healthcare. Advocates found in the hospital setting are often in affiliation with the American Hospital Association (AHA), which is formally affiliated with the Society for Healthcare Consumer Advocacy. They can often assist a patient with issues such as transportation to and from treatment/care to questions about billing issues.
Individual Patient Advocates
Most individuals that perform patient advocacy services fall under a for profit category. These individuals are sought out by patients and family members to maybe do some to the leg work in regards to their clients obtaining quality care. Some may have healthcare management knowledge that can assist their clients, but some may simply bring to the table strong organization. multi-tasking, and customer oriented focus skills to an already stressful situation for many.
As healthcare continues to evolve the need for those who can help with the transition will be an invaluable service for many.