Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Duties Of A Patient Advocate

Patient advocates help patients navigate the often confusing worlds of doctors and hospitals.

Learning that you or a loved one have an illness can be overwhelming. Besides dealing with emotions, the patient must deal with practical concerns, including deciding best manage the illness. While patients can navigate an illness alone, professional patient advocates work to help them with other aspects of it. Some hospitals and clinics offer access to patient advocates. Others work through private practices; some states, including California, have set up patient advocacy offices.

Preparing for Appointments

Leading up to a doctor's appointment, a patient advocate helps the patient compile necessary information. In a notebook, the patient advocate can list the medications the patient takes. Doctors like to know what medications a patient takes to make sure any drug they prescribe won't interact with a drug the patient is already using. The patient advocate can also work with the patient to write down questions for the doctor to answer. During the appointment, the patient advocate can take notes. Doctors often provide patients with enormous amounts of information, much of it in medical jargon. The patient advocate can help the patient by taking notes so the patient has a record of everything the doctor said.

Working With Insurance Companies

The patient advocate can help the patient keep a record of all doctors' appointments, along with the services rendered each time. When doctors' bills come, the patient advocate can match the services listed in his notebook with those itemized on the bill, and look for discrepancies. The patient advocate can also track which services the insurance company doesn't cover, and gather the information necessary to appeal denials. The advocate can also physically file the appeals so the patient avoids the stress.


Because patient advocates work daily with medical concerns, they know where to find information relevant to the patient's condition. A patient advocate can find, or help you find, basic information and research related to a patient's condition. Reviewing current research can help a patient identify potential new medicines or newly discovered triggers for the condition that he can then avoid.

Addressing Concerns

A patient may feel uncomfortable mentioning a concern to a doctor, but having a patient advocate helps ensure that a patient always has someone to confide. The patient advocate can then try to help the patient, whether the concern involves the doctor, finances, job security, or some other aspect of illness. A patient advocate can also inform the patient of his rights, including those related to his job.


From financial to emotional concerns, illness touches on every aspect of a patient's life. A patient advocate can connect a patient to available resources, from a non-profit that may be able to help with bills to a social worker who can help the patient deal with stress and sadness.

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