Lately I have been hearing about nurses who are becoming Independent Patient Advocates. So I went looking for information to answer the question, what is a Patient Advocate?
Here’s what I learned~
Patient Advocate – Informs and guides patients in their medical journey through healthcare system.
Nurses are patient advocates but their time is limited, especially if they work in a busy hospital setting. The Independent Patient Advocate is a vital role in helping provide optimal delivery of health care.
They are also called Independent RN Patient Advocates or Patient Navigators or Health Advocates.
Also, you don’t have to be a nurse to be a Patient Advocate.
What does a patient advocate do?
The Patient Advocate may be present for health care appointments and alert the Health Care Provider to patient compliance issues. They also help to maintain communication between patient and Health Care Provider ensuring the patient understanding of procedures, medications etc., thereby reducing fear and increasing patient compliance resulting in better patient outcomes.
Of course, a contract with a release of medical Information must be placed with each healthcare facility and Healthcare Provider to be in compliance with HIPPA rules.
Just a few things a Patient Advocate can do.
Patient and Health Advocacy is growing as our health care system continues to change. It’s a needed service you could provide within your own community. I know this because I work in home care and I get asked often if there is anyone they could hire to help them navigate the healthcare system.
Health care is complicated, even I don’t know my way around at times, I can only imagine what it must be like for patients.
This is a great business opportunity, nurses (or anyone else interested in advocacy work)
Where can I get training?
There is no nationally recognized standard for Patient Advocates or Navigators, and there is no nationally recognized certification (at the time of this writing)
But there is a program specifically for nurses, that educates you on becoming an Independent RN Patient Advocate and also teaches and provides the tools needed to start your own business.
It is called Patient Advocates created and developed by an RN, Karen Mercereau.
They are affiliated with The University of Arizona, college of nursing and have been endorsed by the American Holistic Nurses Association.
“The only requirement is to be an RN. An independent RN Patient Advocate advocates, teaches,researches and guides. The practice does not include any hands-on work, diagnosing, prescribing or treating. Remember, we are not looking for patient dependence upon us, but rather are working for a successful transition to patient/family independence.” as stated by Karen Marcereau, RN.
You will need to live in Arizona or at least be willing to travel there for the training, (as of this writing) it is not being offered online.
Another option for the rest of you who are not RNs but want to learn more about this topic, is the Professional Patient Advocate Institute. They have tons of free articles to read, audios you can listen to, a membership you can join, certificate training program and more. This is my preferred site for learning more about Patient Advocacy.
Hope this helps, please do share if you found this information useful.