Having someone to advocate on your behalf when you are unable to advocate for yourself or simply having another voice supporting your philosophies in the midst of a crisis is not a new concept. It is, however, quite new in the world of healthcare. You can choose a trusted friend or family member who is willing to support you and has the time required to dedicate depending on what your needs are. You can also choose to hire a professional advocate. Here are four important things to consider when choosing a health advocate;
‘Advocates’ Are Unregulated
The terms “health advocate” or “patient advocate” are in no way regulated by medical boards in the way other health professions are such as nurses, doctors, physical therapist or psychologists. There is no education or experience requirement as there are for other health professions so it’s important to understand the vast difference in what those terms mean and what services an advocate will be able to provide.
Choosing a health advocate with medical experience
Medically experienced advocates can come from a variety of backgrounds such as nursing, respiratory therapy, or even physicians. Advocates with experience in hospitals and education on disease offer guidance and the ability to effectively understand medical terms, medications, the inner workings hospitals and clinics, how hospital teams interact, and the fine balance needed to communicate effectively with care teams and family members. This is what they were trained to do. Typically, health professionals that choose to become advocates were strong advocates for their patients while they were working in the hospital. Medically trained advocates can help you understand medical records, test results, and help guide you and your family through medical terms and sometimes overwhelming options. If you can’t find a professional advocate in your area, there are virtual services to assist you with navigating a medical crisis or creating a roadmap for optimal health outcomes.
Social workers as advocates
Social workers also can be in the role of professional advocates or care coordinators. Social workers that have worked in the hospital have experience with insurance, placement in rehabilitation facilities, coordinating home health services, and general coordination of care for patients throughout health systems and at home. While hospital social workers have experience and knowledge about how things work in the hospital they typically do not have education on disease processes, body systems, medications, or diagnostic testing.
Non-medically trained advocates are often individuals who have experienced a health crisis themselves or assisted a loved one through a health crisis. They do not have education or training on medical emergencies, disease, medical terminology, or diagnostic testing. They offer a unique perspective and experience that a medically trained advocate may or may not have had, that of being a patient. Non-medically trained advocates can help you or your family optimize your experience in the hospital by making your room more personal, keeping loved ones informed when you are unable, taking care of details for when you go home and can act as an extra set of eyes and ears much like a trusted friend or family member would. If you decide to hire a health advocate, ask questions about their background and experience such as what brought them to a career in advocacy? The skill set they bring will be unique and may or may not align with what you need. Some advocates may have consultants with the skills they lack to make their service more complete in the wide variety of medical situations that can arise.
No matter who you choose to be a member of your care team, the alska connected caregiving solution is essential to help get all of your important medical information in one place and securely stored and shareable.