How to choose a health care advocate
Anyone who has your best interests at heart, and who will support and encourage you, and who could speak or write on your behalf, can become your health care advocate. In an ideal world, sometimes referred to as the good old days, a family member would serve the role of the health care advocate. This is still, of course, an option today, but often hard to arrange. Also, unlike in the past, our healthcare is much more complicated posing difficulty for a family member. Finally, if family members are close in age, they too may be finding their way through the same healthcare maze. Nevertheless, if a trusted, able and willing family member is available to perform the role of advocate that may be your first choice.
You may be your own best advocate but because healthcare can be complicated and getting the information from multiple providers overwhelming, it is good to take someone along with you. This person can listen, take notes, and ask questions that may be difficult for you to ask.
If a family member is not available to represent you and you would like someone to come alongside you and advocate for you then selecting the best advocate for you is important. Consider doing a little background research before hiring a health care advocate unless your physician, other healthcare professional, or attorney has recommended someone to you.
To find an advocate in your area, there are two healthcare advocacy organizations that list their members by geography and that might be a starting point for you:
- The National Association of Health Advocacy Consultants, http://www.nahac.com/
- The Alliance of Professional Health Care Advocates, http://aphadvocates.org/
Once you have the name of an advocate it would be appropriate to contact the health care advocate and start the process with a phone conversation. You often make decisions about professionals to hire on the basis of a phone conversation alone and it may be that after a conversation you feel comfortable enough to arrange for a face to face meeting with the health care advocate.
Things to consider when meeting with the health care advocate:
- Do they appear to listen well?
- Do they communicate easily and clearly?
- Do you feel comfortable sharing your most private information with them?
- Do they have knowledge of your chronic conditions or a willingness to learn about them?
- Do they appear objective and calm as they listen to your concerns?
Other things to consider as you select the health care advocate:
- What is their educational background?
- Do they carry business insurance?
- Do they have a service agreement for you to sign?
- What is their rate and how will you be billed?
- Are they available to start and what is their daily availability?
- Will they provide written reports for you and others (at your direction)?
Irrespective of the answers to these questions, you may rely on your own judgment of people and professionals and decide on the basis of your initial impressions to begin a relationship with the health care advocate.
If you are looking for a health care advocate contact Margaret Sayers, MS, NP
Care Coach, Clarence, NY, 14031