Health Advocates and Self Advocacy

What is a health advocate?

A health advocate is a person who provides direct and personalized support to a patient or their relatives in the healthcare system. They promote access to health care in the community and support health care initiatives.

Their goal is to support, educate, and empower patients and their relatives to make suitable healthcare choices for their circumstances. They help patients in medical, financial, and other areas concerning their needs.

Who are health advocates?

They typically have a health care background and diverse expertise. Health advocates may be nurses, doctors, therapists, case managers, lawyers, insurance providers, home health workers, etc. Some advocates do not have a healthcare background or certification. They may have become health advocates after their own experience with illness or a relative’s illness.

What is a health self-advocate?

A health self-advocate is an individual who is a knowledgeable health care consumer. They investigate medical information, utilize their resources, inquire about their care, understand when and how to explore a second opinion, advocate for themselves when it comes to the cost of care, and comprehend the health care system.

Who are health self advocates?

Who is a health self-advocate? Well, it’s you. You speak up for yourself when it comes to your health and wellness. You ask questions when your doctor orders a test, prescribes a medication or frowns at your chart. When you feel uncomfortable, unsure, or unconfident, you seek a second opinion or look for a better solution. You know when you might need more support, and reach out when you need it. You know when to say yes and, even more importantly, no.

Why do you do it? Because you know that you deserve excellent care. You feel confident when you’re involved and have a choice in your care. You know that you are the best advocate for yourself.

A few tips for health care advocacy

It is a great idea to be prepared whether advocating for yourself or a relative. Keep information about health conditions, emergency contacts, allergies, medications, and providers easily accessible.

Education is essential; the more you know and understand, the more confident you will feel. Look for information regarding your care or condition from reliable sources, don’t be afraid to ask your physician questions, and if your mind tends to go blank during appointments, write them down ahead of time. If prescribed medication, take a few extra minutes at the pharmacy to consult with the pharmacist and bring up any questions or concerns you might have. 

Did the bill for your hospital stay just come in the mail? Not sure about the charges? Review the statement with the hospital or your insurance provider. If that doesn’t clear it up, or you need financial support, consider working with a medical billing advocate. They can review your medical bills for any errors and advocate on your behalf to correct the mistakes. The medical billing advocate can also help to reduce the financial strain by working to reduce the cost.

Not sure if your provider is the right fit? Review patient ratings, ask a friend for a recommendation, bring up your questions and address any concerns you have with your provider during your appointment.

Are you feeling overwhelmed? That’s okay and understandable. Take a moment and acknowledge what you’re going through, and consider that it might be time to bring in some extra support. Now is a great time to ask a family member or friend to accompany you during your appointments. They may be of help by writing down essential information during your appointment, remind you to ask that one question you have been thinking about for days, and speak up for you when you can’t.

It can never be too early to take an active role in your health and wellness. However, it is essential that you don’t wait until it’s too late. Having taken an active role in your care and preparing your medical documentation in advance can positively impact your future health. In case of an emergency, having your documentation easily accessible can affect your outcomes. Consider preparing your medical information in advance and securing it with a friend, relative, or an emergency contact ahead of time. If you have a smartphone that includes a medical ID application, this is a great way to make vital information accessible. First responders and medical providers will be able to access this information and make decisions accordingly.

Remember, you have a choice in your care. If you are still in the information gather stage, consider providers who will schedule an introduction appointment. 

Disclaimer: The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek your physician’s advice or other qualified health providers with any questions regarding a medical condition.