You may have heard the term patient advocate. You may even know someone who has benefitted from the services of a patient advocate However, you may be unclear as to how to find and hire one.
How do I find an advocate?
First, know the difference between an independent patient advocate and an institutional advocate.
Most hospital systems and cancer centers provide advocates, patient navigators, or case managers for their patients. The job descriptions may vary slightly, however, their main objective is to ensure patients are able to navigate within their institutions. Their ultimate allegiance is to the institution they work for.
It is common for these individuals to manage several patients at once which minimizes the level of personal attention they are able to provide.
In contrast, an independent advocate/ health consultant works for the client they serve, which means their allegiance is to you. Their objective is to help you meet your goals and to ensure you get the personal attention required for your specific situation.
What qualifications should you look for when hiring an independent advocate/ health consultant?
There are many facets to healthcare. The actual treatments, medical billing and insurance, hospitalizations, and finding the necessary expertise for complicated diagnoses are just a few.
What you should look for depends on the situation you are facing, so you must first consider the question: ‘What do I need help with?’
- Do you need help finding a second opinion for a new diagnosis?
- Do you need help understanding your treatment options?
- Do you need help with medical billing or insurance?
- Do you feel alone and need a partner in decision-making?
- Are you supporting loved ones and it has become overwhelming?
Once you have identified what you are looking for it is time to search for the professional who will best meet your needs. Remember the advocate with the most expertise may not be located near you. However, many specialized advocates routinely provide their services remotely.
There are several public directories available that allow you to search by location, keyword, or the service you are looking for.
Questions to help you choose an independent patient advocate/ health consultant?
Once you have located several potential independent advocates who provide the services you are looking for, the next step is to interview them to see if there is a fit. An advocate should provide a complimentary call for you to get to know them and to ask questions. These calls may range from 15 to 20 minutes and are not meant to provide you with specific advocacy solutions.
- What are your advocacy or care management credentials?
- Have you had other cases similar to mine?
- What is your background, training, and experience in providing these services?
- Are you certified for this work?
- What do you charge for your services?
- Does anyone else pay you to help me?
- Do you have errors and omissions insurance?
- Do you know the approximate amount of time it will take you to help me?
- What is your current caseload?
- Do you have references?
If you would like to learn more about how I can specifically help you or a loved one, please contact us for a complimentary get-acquainted call at Cancer Champions.