Advocacy is an unfamiliar word in the Indian healthcare sector. For most people, the word advocate conjures up the image of a lawyer - and for most doctors, an advocate is the dreaded enemy who files lawsuits for medical negligence against them.
When you fall ill, you are likely to be lost and confused. While your doctor can help provide you with medical care, patients need a lot more than just prescriptions and pills. They need:
The Role of a Patient Advocate
- Emotional support and hand holding
- Help with doing research to explore options and verify that the doctor’s advice is correct
- A guide who acts as a sounding board
- Help with filling up forms and claiming reimbursement from the insurance company
- Help with talking with doctors, coordinating care with a team of specialists, getting a second opinion and navigating a hospital’s labyrinthine maze
Patient advocates act as guardians of patient’s rights:
- With their inside knowledge of how a healthcare system works (or does not work)
- Their access to leading doctors
- Their ability to cut through hospital red-tape and make sense of medical jargon
- Their skill in sifting through medical research and translating this information into simple language
- Their compassionate support
- Their capability in talking confidently to doctors without getting bullied or cowed down
Patient advocates are able to provide an invaluable service to a patient
at the most crucial time of his life. Depending on who assumes the role of a patient advocate, patient advocates can be classified as self-advocates, informal advocates and professional advocates.
What services do patient advocates offer?
They offer a wide variety of services, including providing medical assistance, insurance assistance, home health assistance
, elder and geriatric assistance and legal help. In order to discharge these duties they need the ability to:
- Dispel myths and provide patients with curated, trustworthy information, so that they understand their diseases and treatment options and don’t get misled by quacks.
- Cut the red-tape because they understand the hospital hierarchy. With the assistance of a patient-advocate you can get prompt and efficient care without getting bogged down by bureaucratic hassles.
In the age of medical blasphemy, it is required that patients do get entitled with certain amenities which they can use when confronted with wrong doings of particular doctor.