The Benefits of Having a Patient Advocate

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Our healthcare system is one of the best in the world but it is complex. Many older adults find it challenging and frustrating to navigate the healthcare maze. It can be burdensome for older adults to have the responsibility of managing their own healthcare. This is especially the case if a senior lives alone or has no children living nearby to help. Approximately 85% of seniors have at least one chronic health condition and 60% have at least two chronic medical conditions. Therefore, a patient advocate (also known as a patient navigator or healthcare advocate), can greatly assist older adults with the overall process.


A patient advocate is someone who helps guide a patient through the healthcare system. This includes providing support through the screening, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of a medical condition, such as cancer and diabetes. They can also help with managing multiple medical conditions and medication management. An advocate helps patients communicate with healthcare providers so patients get the information they need to make decisions about their health care. Patient advocates may also help individuals set up appointments for doctor visits and medical tests and get financial, legal, and social support. They may also work with insurance companies, employers, case managers, lawyers, and others who may have an effect on a person’s healthcare needs.


Choosing a Patient Advocate

  • A patient advocate can be a trusted friend, family member, or spouse. In addition to being someone you feel comfortable with, an advocate should be highly organized, assertive, and have good communication skills.  While advocates do not need to be medical professionals, they should be comfortable and have the time and patience to help you navigate your healthcare. These individuals often volunteer their time and services due to their close relationship with a patient.
  • Many hospitals employ professional patient advocates who work as part of a team to assist in the overall coordination of a patient’s care. These individuals are often nurses or social workers. These professionals advocate for the patient while also adhering to hospital policies and regulations.
  • If you don’t have a family member or friend to help, the best solution may be hiring a professional patient advocate. The AdvoConnection Directory contains contact information for hundreds of independent, private health and patient advocates and care managers in the United States and Canada. Go to:


The Role of the Patient Advocate

  • Help you prepare for and accompany you to medical appointments;
  • Review diagnosis and treatment options and help with decision-making;
  • Help manage prescriptions;
  • Make follow-up appointments;
  • Provide caregiver support;
  • Review medical bills and help with billing disputes;
  • Complete medical paperwork, coordinate and file medical records;
  • Assist in helping you find assisted living or in-home care;
  • Assist in end-of-life decisions.




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