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Guest column: What is your biggest challenge as a Patient Advocate?

October 17th, 2018 | Posted in Advocacy 101, Business Development

By Anne Llewellyn, MS, BHSA, RN-BC, CCM, CRRN, Nurse Advocate

(Anne Llewellyn is a former editor of Patient Advocate Report and is a board member for the Patient Advocate Certification Board.)

The biggest concern I hear from patient advocates is how to inform people that patient advocacy exists and the value of having an advocate can bring a patient when they are thrust into the complex world of healthcare. Today, with the cost of health care being shifted to the consumer, people are looking for ways to understand how the health care system works, how to find providers who can diagnosis and design a plan of care that meets their individual needs, and how they can contain their costs. Having a patient advocate is helping people to navigate the complex healthcare system effectively and efficiently.

But how does a person find an advocate? How do they know the professional they find are qualified? For many, it is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Today, professional advocates are taking action and finding innovative ways to inform people who they are and what they do. Here are a few examples:

  • Professional Advocates are achieving national certification. The Patient Advocate Certification Board launched the first national certification in patient advocacy in March 2018. The first exam rolled out in March, and 149 professionals became Board Certified Patient Advocates. Achieving the Board Certification is one-way professional advocates can demonstrate their experience and expertise in advocacy. The second testing period took place from September 15 – October 6. Those who sat for the exam are waiting for their results. Once are delivered to the candidates, they will be added to the PACB website! Click here to view the growing list of Board Certified Patient Advocates. Going forward the exam will be given twice a year, March and October. To learn more, visit the Patient Advocate Certification Board website.
  • National and State professional organizations involved in patient advocacy are using technology to allow members to enter their information about the work they do so they can be found when people are searching online to find help in their community. The Alliance for Professional Health Advocates, the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy, the Washington State Health Advocacy Association and Greater National Advocates are examples of how professional associations are helping to inform the public about how to find an advocate in their community. In addition, they provide a way for advocates to network and educating the public about the role, function and value of patient/health advocates.
  • Professional advocates are turning to the media to spread the word on what they do. Recently two advocates worked with Vice News/HBO to prepare a video that explained the work they do. Take seven minutes to watch this video. Using the media is a way to reach the public with accurate information.
  • Advocacy organizations are doing important work in educating the public about their role when they become a patient or a caregiver. Here are two examples:
  1. Campaign Zero is partnering with professional advocates to be part of their community education program. This work allows advocates to educate in their communities and empower people to be active members in their health and healthcare. Think about being part of this community.
  2. Pulse Center for Patient Safety, Education and Awareness is an organization helping people to become active participants in their health and healthcare. Today, we are told to bring to bring someone with us when we are admitted to the hospital or have a doctor’s appointment. But what are these people supposed to do? The Family-Centered Patient Advocacy Training helps prepare participants to be a patient safety advocate for one person or the whole family. PULSE works with the community and healthcare professionals to understand what to do so they know their role. Pulse provides tools that consumers can use to advocate for themselves.

If you are an advocate trying to understand how to grow your business check out these resources and see which one fits your business plan!

Best of luck.