What is a Patient Advocate?


Health care advocates provide a vital service for patients who are managing chronic conditions.

A health care advocate provides assistance and support for both patients and their loved ones who are trying to navigate our health care system. Whether the patient is acutely sick or has a chronic health condition, it can be a confusing and frightening experience. Either a trained advocate—or a trusted family member or friend—can help patients understand their treatment options, assist with life-altering decisions, and directly communicate with health care providers on behalf of the patient to ensure they get the care they need.

When first diagnosed with an acute or chronic health condition, patients can quickly become overwhelmed by the amount of information they receive, and by the medical jargon used by their health care providers. Having a health care advocate available to ask questions and clarify information about a patient’s diagnosis and prescribed treatment is invaluable. Advocates can act as a translator, spelling out medical terminology in language the patient can understand, allowing patients to comprehend their treatment options, and empowering them to make fully informed decisions. Advocates can also act as a liaison between patients and providers so patients can articulate their concerns and preferences and ensure their wishes are respected when medical decisions are made. This mutual clarity and understanding reduce the anxiety about their diagnosis and treatment, potentially negatively impacting their recovery.

Health care advocates can also assist patients with scheduling appointments, organizing medical records, and deciphering insurance claims. Specialized care for patients with complex or chronic medical conditions may not be readily available in rural areas; for these patients, advocates can also help identify a specialist and care center to meet their specific needs.

Health care advocates also provide vital support for patients and their families by offering a sympathetic ear, a shoulder to lean on, and advice on coping with the emotional aspects of an illness. Getting an accurate diagnosis and finding the proper treatment can be a long, arduous road for patients dealing with chronic conditions, some of whom may have been told that they’re “crazy,” or that their symptoms are all in their head. Providing reassurance and validation can alleviate some of the isolation, anxiety, and depression experienced by these patients and those with terminal illnesses.

Overall, health care advocates act as a resource for patients and their families by providing critical information, communicating with health care providers, and providing emotional support. This combined support creates an empowered patient who can navigate the healthcare system more confidently and ultimately achieve better health outcomes.

This article originally appeared on pharmacytechnician.org and was republished as part of a partnership between Drug Topics and the National Pharmacy Technician Association.

Related Videos
Related Content
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.