Health care systems are complicated and more so in the U.S. In this country, the system could be more complex than in any other country. Things are not made any easier when a person is sick and cannot think clearly. On top of this, helpful information may not be readily available from hospital stuff. It is at this time that the service of a private patient advocate and a hospital patient advocate may come in handy. But who are these advocates and how do they differ from one another?
Who is a private patient advocate?
In short, a private patient advocate is a person who understands the health system in such a way that he can help the patient get the best treatment according to their conditions. These advocates are on a one on one basis with their client (the patient) and their allegiance is to that patient. The care of these professionals to their patients starts from the home to the hospital, to relevant government offices, insurance claims and up to any other place related to the patient’s condition or status. Although the name advocate may give the impression of a professional trained in the legal matters, this is not necessarily the case for private patient advocates.
These advocates can be from various backgrounds as nurses, doctors and social workers. These are people who may have previously worked in the health sector. According to U.S News and World Report the demand for these advocates will continue rise as the health system becomes more complicated and as the baby boomers age and get into complicated health conditions. With this in mind, there are many advantages of seeking the help of a private patient advocate. These advocates will:
- Be with you from home to hospital.
- Be with you during doctor’s consultation.
- May be by your bedside whenever appropriate.
- May help you during medical billing and assist you not to be billed wrongly.
- They can help in explaining your concerns to a hospital patient advocate.
- Will help you not be taken advantage of in anyway by medical staff or institution.
The only downside to this arrangement is that it doesn’t come cheap. This service adds a significant cost to the patient’s medical bills.
With the complex details being taken care of by this professional; the patient’s family and care givers can concentrate their energies in assisting the patient in other ways.
Who is a hospital patient advocate?
Many people think that the nurse, the doctor or some other relevant worker in a hospital qualifies to be referred to as a patient advocate. To some extent it may be true. This is because they can offer some information about the hospital that may be helpful to the patient. For example they will help the patient navigate the services provided by that particular hospital or organization. In the real senses a hospital patient advocate is a specially assigned person who listens to and helps patients with their complaints. Despite this arrangement, it is noteworthy that many patients have felt frustrated even with the ‘help’ of these hospital advocates. How comes?
First and foremost the hospital patient advocate is in the hospital’s or organization’s payroll. For this reason, the advocate’s first allegiance is to his employer and not to the patient. His first priority is to protect his employer from getting into any kind of trouble in the course of treating the patient. All the same these advocates are important to patients stay in hospital in that:
- They are there when a patient has a complaint.
- They help explain bills.
- They can organise a patient’s transport home.
- They can help the patient understand their bill of rights during their hospital stay.
- They listen and act if a patient feels that they have been given the wrong medications.
The short of it is that a hospital patient advocate is more of a customer relations officer with his employer’s interests first and foremost. The patient usually comes second and in most cases when there are complaints about the hospital and its stuff.
A summary of the differences between private patient advocates and hospital patient advocates
|Private patient advocate||Hospital patient advocate|
|· Paid by the patient or their family
· Dedicates his service to the patient throughout the course of the illness and sometimes after.
· Trust ratings are very high.
· Many advocates in this group have undergone some kind of certification
· Helps his client to understand treatment options available ‘out there’.
|· Is an employee of the hospital or health organization.
· Has to meet the needs of all patients with issues in the hospital and not dedicated to a particular one.
· Viewed with suspicion by society in general.
· Some in this group are picked by the institution they work in to offer the service.
· Will only promote treatment options available where he works.
As medical care gets more and more complicated, the role of the private patient advocate is bound to become even more integral to patient care. This is regardless of the costs involved.
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