We've all experienced the complexity of the American healthcare system. Long gone are the days of simply scheduling an appointment, seeing the doctor, and paying the bill. Today, we're also dealing with insurance (if we're lucky), multiple healthcare professionals, multiple medications, technology, and an extended list of choices. Especially if we're not feeling well, sometimes it's just too much!
A new profession has grown out of this complexity: Healthcare Advocate (Johns Hopkins). For a fee, healthcare advocates like nurses and social workers can help understand condition and treatment options, work with medical teams, and resolve health insurance issues. Organizations like the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants provide consultant training and lists of their members.
In most cases, however, we don't need a professional because we're capable of advocating for ourselves and our loved ones. Many patients are already making moves in that direction. A recent report from Nuance indicates that 69% of patients visit the doctor with a list of questions in hand, 39% have consulted WebMD about their condition, and 20% bring data from a personal monitoring device to their appointments. Many patients also have an advocate (spouse, relative, friend, or caregiver that they trust)... as many as 70% of them according to Dr. Burton, Director of Geriatrics at Johns Hopkins.
Not sure how to advocate for yourself... or looking to increase your skills? Here are four basic strategies from the National Family Caregiver Association (now the Caregiver Action Network) that can help.