What Does a Health Care Advocate Do?

Are you considering a career as a health care advocate? Is a family member in need of a health care advocate and you’re unsure what to expect? Learn everything you need to know about this compassionate, helpful and often needed individual – the health care advocate.

What is a Health Care Advocate?

A health care advocate is a designated clinical consultant or other hired professional who works to improve, maintain and manage the health of a patient by organizing various educational and health care-related support services. While health care advocates are typically clinical professionals, they may also be social workers with health care experience or nonprofessionals who have had experience working with certain patients or health conditions. Occasionally, they may even be a family member or trusted friend. Although health care advocates deal with a patient’s medical program, they do not diagnose or treat the patient. Their job is to help the patient with health-related issues and make their health care experience as easy and pleasant as possible.

What Does a Health Care Advocate Do?

While the health care advocate’s job is to help make the health care experience as easy and stress-free as possible, this is done in many ways. A health care advocate can:

• Voice concerns or ask questions of a physician on behalf of the patient
• Learn medication schedule and help patient keep up with treatment
• Ask questions regarding any follow-up care required
• Assist patient with insurance matters and file paperwork
• Make transportation arrangements
• Research doctors, medical facilities, medical procedures and treatment options
• Help patient learn about health benefits and other resources available
• Help the patient find legal help in the case of a medical error
• Help the patient’s family come to terms with the illness and make informed decisions

In general, the health care advocate can help the patient navigate through the health care system a little easier by removing obstacles that tend to make the process overwhelming. They may also be able to identify early health risks and prevent adverse reactions or illness. Because of their expertise and experience dealing with patient/client health care issues, health care advocates can help the patient traverse the health care system. They may assist with insurance issues, medication concerns, government regulations, doctor visits or just answer questions.

What Education Does a Health Care Advocate Need?

Health care advocates may be professionals who have experience in nursing or other health care professions. Some may also receive on-the-job training and earn the Certified Case Manager (CCM) credential through the Commission for Case Manager Certification. Health care advocates may fall in the category of health educators, a career that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, requires at least a bachelor’s degree. Health educators may earn the Certified Health Education Specialist credential.

How to Find a Health Care Advocate

Patients who are in need of health care advocates can ask their medical care providers for a list of health care advocates. They can also check with the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates or the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants, two organizations that offer membership for professional health care advocates. These organizations also provide answers to many questions about health care advocates and offer various resources for those in need of an advocate.

We’ve all heard the saying, “as long as I have my health”. Patients who have health-related issues have enough to deal with without being bogged down in paperwork, concerns, and other bureaucracy. Health care advocates are committed to seeing this does not happen.