A trusted ally to guide patients through the ever-changing, complex healthcare industry. A patient advocate is someone who serves as a singular point of contact for medical patients as they seek, receive, and manage healthcare services.
Often, a family member serves as de facto patient advocate for a loved one. But more and more, professional Patient Advocates have become indispensable mediators between the patient and an ever-changing, complex healthcare industry. While they are not a healthcare provider or a family member, the Patient Advocate also knows all the ins and outs of the healthcare system—from doctor’s office well-visits to insurance and billing questions to complex surgical procedures. And they use this knowledge to help their patients see better outcomes.
The History of Patient Advocates
Professional Patient Advocates have been around since the early 1970’s, but the idea of a facilitator between the patient and those who heal has been practiced for centuries. In the past, nurses, social workers, even missionaries and other clergy have served as non-doctor counselors to those who are ill. But as the healthcare industry grew more and more complex in the later half of the twentieth century, the primacy of the patient—his or her will and voice in the service of their own care—was often lost. The need for a pro-patient mediator between the patient and their healthcare providers became a necessity.
Today, Patient Advocates are invaluable resources to patients and their families—explaining healthcare-related policies and procedures, facilitating strong relationships between patients and caregivers, and helping people make the best decisions for their health, healing, and overall quality of life. Though Patient Advocates are not practicing physicians, many have some medical training or experience on the provider side, which helps them understand the social determinants of care and look beyond healthcare to help their patients. Most also have years of experience working in many different situations with many different kinds of patients. And all are exceptional communicators whose commitment to the best patient outcomes is unwavering.
Proactive MD Patient Advocacy Services
Proactive MD Patient Advocates manage all aspects of patient engagement, working directly with providers to ensure that patients have access to the care and resources they need—inside or outside of the onsite Health & Wellness Centers. Here is a list of services offered:
Patient Outreach & Engagement. Patient Advocates sponsor wellness initiatives and health programs, meet patients for lunch or coffee to discuss life situations and health concerns, set up company-wide workshops and educational seminars, or email and call to check-in.
Benefits Concierge & Resource Navigation. Patient Advocates help clients navigate the healthcare system, connect them to providers who offer the best care, and help them understand their benefits and the resources available to them.
Medical Social Services. Patient Advocates can connect clients to effective community programs, help them find additional resources, and decrease the client’s social and financial stress so their health can improve.
Home & Site Visits. Patient Advocates regularly visit clients at home, in the hospital, or at rehab facilities to provide encouragement, set follow-up appointments, and answer questions about next steps.
Behavioral & Mental Health Support. Family dynamics, financial concerns, work issues, bad habits, daily challenges—Patient Advocates coordinate referrals for patients who have clinical depression, severe anxiety, or other behavioral or mental health conditions.
Chronic Condition Management & Referrals. Patient Advocates reach out after Onsite Health & Wellness Center visits to encourage clients in their care plan, give them a more holistic understanding, and help them manage their condition. When clients need outside services, they coordinate referrals to specialists who provide the best care.
Proactive MD Patient Advocates are the most visible members of the Clinical Team, answering client questions, making a complex system more understandable, and providing a dedicated partner for the patient’s healthcare journey.
Navigating the modern healthcare landscape can be daunting. The Patient Advocate is a friend who has the answers you need. No matter the question, they’re always on your side.
More information about Patient Advocacy:
The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) on how to find a qualified Patient Advocate: https://www.npsf.org/page/patientadvocate.
Proactive MD’s Patient Advocates: https://proactive-md.com/our-clinical-team/.