Patient Advocacy – History and Trends
When I tell people that I am a patient advocate and my job is to help patients and families navigate through our healthcare system, they often respond “I wish I had known you when ….” They tell me stories about when they were overwhelmed, confused, afraid, or unsatisfied by our complicated, expensive, and often inefficient healthcare system in the United States: an aging parent receiving inadequate care, an unsuccessful emergency room visit, a new and frightening diagnosis, battles with their insurance company, the specialist merry-go-round, or dismissive doctors.
The idea that patients need support from family members or friends to help them through a crisis is not new. However, private patient and healthcare advocacy as a separate profession has gained attention in the past twelve years because it fills so many gaps in the current American healthcare system. This profession, born of necessity and nurtured by its trailblazers, now plays an integral role in helping patients and families achieve better health outcomes, save money, and reduce stress during difficult medical journeys. Patients can now seek out competent, compassionate advocates to guide them toward better outcomes and teach them to become their own best advocates.
What exactly is independent patient advocacy? To learn more, please read my recently published article in the Journal of the Society of Certified Senior Advisors in which I present an overview of health and patient advocacy – where it’s been, where we are now, and where we may be going. Learn about the history, the reality, the services and ethics, and advocacy organizations. Everyone needs to learn to become their own best advocate.