According to the National Patient Safety Foundation, an advocate is a “supporter, believer, sponsor, promoter, campaigner, backer, or spokesperson.” The professional patient advocate is someone who can objectively assist patients and their families in understanding and making sense of healthcare, diagnoses, treatment decisions, and other issues related to health and disease. An effective advocate is someone you trust who is willing to act on your behalf as well as someone who can work well with other members of your healthcare team such as your doctors and nurses. These characteristics are important considerations when selecting an advocate.

BENEFITS OF WORKING WITH A PATIENT ADVOCATE

Patients and families dealing with many different kinds of medical issues may benefit from the services of an independent patient advocate. Some examples include the patient or family who:

  • Wants more information about a diagnosis or treatment
  • Is overwhelmed with the volume of information found on the internet, needs help understanding the information, or needs help differentiating good quality information from “junk science”
  • Has a complex medical issue and needs help coordinating treatment
  • Has been shuttled between specialists who communicate poorly, either with your physician or other members of the care team
  • Has difficulty managing or feels overwhelmed by a medical situation
  • Is unfamiliar with the medical system
  • Is a senior
  • Lives far away from family; Best Patient Advocacy can provide monitoring of care for a family member who can’t be present because of distance, travel, or other obligations
  • Is frustrated because progress is slow
  • Needs help deciding on a treatment plan
  • Wants support to carry out an advance directive or to discuss end-of-life care