What is a Patient Advocate?

Patient advocates are becoming more popular in today’s healthcare environment, and for good reason. Advocacy is a much needed solution to a myriad of system-wide problems. It fills the unavoidable gaps in care that exist between patients, providers, and the system at large.

Healthcare advocates work in various settings and have differing professional backgrounds and specialty areas. Not all advocates are board certified; some advocates are licensed professionals, others are not.

A Board Certified Patient Advocate (BCPA) is an experienced healthcare professional who is highly knowledgeable in a broad range of health-related topics. He/she works directly for the patient to provide support, guidance, education, and options for meeting healthcare goals.

The advocate ensures that the patient has a personalized health plan by keeping the patient’s wishes in the forefront of every decision that is made. Your voice should always be heard, and an advocate will support your right to have input in your own care.

Hospital advocates ensure that you are familiar with their system, and will handle complaints if you have them; they are paid by the hospital.

Insurance advocates are there to help you understand your plan, related claims, and billing.

Unless an advocate works directly for you, be wary of what they are trying to achieve by assisting you.