Monday, November 4, 2013
Do I Need A Patient Advocate?
Do I need a patient advocate? This question is becoming more common in the U.S. with many provisions of the Affordable Care Act taking effect in the near future. Many hospitals and doctors are being required to change the way they do business to address the new law and the demands of their 'customers', the patients.You may need a patient advocate if you were recently diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Or, if you are planning to be hospitalized or require additional care and assistance at your home. If you are concerned about a loved one's safety while they are hospitalized (and you should be!), then a patient advocate can help. Over 100,000 unnecessary deaths occur each year due to hospital acquired infections. 1 out of 10 patients will be affected by an infection while being hospitalized. Unnecessary falls are also a common occurrence in hospitals.Some patient advocates specialize in medical billing issues, insurance, or disease management. For example, Alzheimer's care or cancer may be an area of expertise for a patient advocate. Cancer navigators and on-staff hospital patient advocates focus primarily on your experience within a specific hospital and are usually paid by that hospital. An independent patient advocate works solely for the patient wherever their medical needs may take them. Since they are hired and paid by the patient or the patient's family, they are not obligated to a certain medical provider. They can seek the answers that you need with no strings attached.What specifically can a patient advocate do for me? - Will help you prepare for and participate with you during a doctor's appointment- Will consult with you about a recent diagnosis. - Will help ensure patient safety during your hospitalization. - Will provide care coordination between your multiple providers during your illness. - Will ensure that you are receiving health care and financial assistance benefits as well as support services that you are eligible to receive. - Will advise you and your family on treatment options, home care services, and insurance issues. - Will improve communication with your medical providers and family members to ensure that appropriate actions are being taken in a timely manner. - Will help you manage side effects to medications and treatments.If your loved one is located far away, you will have peace of mind knowing that his or her care is being managed professionally to ensure positive results.Obtaining help from an independent patient advocate should seriously be considered if you want to take control of your health and protect your loved ones during a serious illness. Your emotional and physical health are greatly affected during an illness. An advocate can help you identify and prioritize your care options.