4 Ways A Patient Advocate Can Untangle Medical Matters
After our recent series of tax-help articles, this article is going to switch focus to another subject where our readers often need help: medical counseling. When you or a loved one goes to a clinic, hospital, or emergency room, or even somewhere as simple as a pharmacy for a prescription refill, it can be easy to feel nervous. Is that prescription still appropriate? What if the nurse's instructions at the hospital are unclear? How can you know an elderly friend or family member will keep up an at-home medical regimen?
All of these concerns and questions are valid, but there's a good way to get relief: talk to a patient advocate.
Patient advocates are, simply put, people who help their clients in all kinds of medical matters, including going to doctor's appointments, understanding diagnoses, searching for second opinions or alternative treatments, and even negotiating down medical bills. Patient advocates are skilled at understanding and navigating the health system, which can give anyone facing a tough medical situation a lot of peace of mind.
Here's a brief story highlighted in a recent post by Values Based Patient Advocates (VBPA), a patient advocate group serving the Northern Virginia area:
Take the case of Jonathan Fine, a patient advocate, and his friend, an 85-year old man who rarely complained about his health. When the man experienced leg pains, however, emergency room doctors initially assumed that he was suffering from hip inflammation or a muscle sprain. It was only after Fine insisted they do more tests that the doctors realized that he was suffering from abdominal bleeding. In such instances, patient advocacy helps seniors receive life-saving care when confronted with a misdiagnosis.
VBPA goes on to outline four ways (among many!) that patient advocates work on behalf of their patients:
- Patient advocates have a proven rate of success
- Patient advocates help boost health literacy
- Patient advocates can help you get a second opinion
- Patient advocates can translate complex medical information
If any of those services sound like something you could use, check out the Values Based Patient Advocacy website. Take a look at the rest of their patient advocacy post as well, which describes their services in detail.