Patient advocates are bridges to resources for people who struggle with impersonal medical systems. They can serve as a ringing bell that summon attention when a patient is overlooked. Some advocates focus upon resources that are helpful to patients with disabilities. These resources include rehabilitation programs, assistive technology and specialized therapists.
Patient advocates are employed by individual clients and by institutions. When advocates are employed by hospitals, they may be restricted to the identification of resources in the hospital that employs them. Patient advocates who are employed by individual clients don't face such restrictions, and can serve as guiding lights to the country's best resources.
Patient advocates do not receive a license. Some advocates complete graduate school programs in healthcare advocacy. Others receive certificates. Some patient advocates are informally trained through experience. It is important to document an advocate's credentials.
There is a lot of flexibility in the role of patient advocates, and costs can vary with different roles. Their functions include:
- oversight of medication schedules and home rehabilitation regimens
- participation in medical appointments
- facilitating communication between a client, healthcare professionals and their family members
- review of insurance forms and medical bills
- assistance in government and private insurance claims, objections and appeals
When a patient advocate is selected, it is often helpful to inform your family and healthcare professionals of his/her role and to exchange contact information.
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