Our Patient Advocacy Program
At this point, you’ve probably all heard about our patient advocacy program, as we’ve had an enormous amount of curiosity and interest. So…why the need for a patient advocate? Well, for starters, have you ever left the hospital or the doctor’s office with more questions than when you entered?
Since the onset of electronic medical records, there has been less communication and personal touch between patients and their healthcare providers, which means things may get overlooked. Many of us have tried to use patient portals to access our records and test results, but still do not know how to interpret these results, which causes undo stress and anxiety. Moreover, if you feel like healthcare providers are distracted when seeing patients, and if you’re hesitant to speak up about it, you are not alone. According to a 2017 article from Mayo Clinic Proceedings:
“Patients are often reluctant to assert their interests in the presence of clinicians, whom they see as experts. The higher the stakes of a health decision, the more entrenched the socially sanctioned roles of patient and clinician can become. As a result, many patients are susceptible to ‘hostage bargaining syndrome’ (HBS), whereby they behave as if negotiating for their health from a position of fear and
confusion,” (Berry et al, 2017).
Our advocacy program is designed to circumvent this dilemma, so that we can be the liaison between you and your other doctors, for all your medical conditions. With you permission, we will access your medical records and speak to your healthcare providers, then explain things to you and your family in simple and understandable terms so that you can be more proactive in your own healthcare, which will lead to better compliance, better follow-up, and less anxiety. Speaking of which, have you ever tried to call your doctor after-hours and were unable to get ahold of them? Or ever talked to a physician assistant or nurse practitioner when you would rather speak to the doctor? Did you ever wish you had a child who was a doctor, so that someone would advocate on your behalf?
Well, as a member of our patient advocacy program, you will get direct access via a private cell phone number so we can help bridge the gap between you and your entire medical team, which will give you peace of mind. Because as we all know, being sick, injured, or recovering from surgery are all situations that make a patient feel anxious and vulnerable. Many people find themselves frustrated and confused once they leave a healthcare facility, which brings me to my own personal experience with patient advocacy.
When I was visiting my father several years ago in Florida, he was hospitalized for fainting. I was dressed in an unassuming way—in a T-shirt, blue jeans, and a baseball cap—and didn’t identify myself as a doctor. I requested to speak to the doctor before my dad was discharged because there was no explanation for his symptoms. The physician assistant told me that the doctor was very busy, and I couldn’t speak to him. I told him I just needed about 30 seconds, yet I was still denied. The physician assistant then proceeded to say, “Ask me the question and I’ll pass it on to the doctor.”
So, I said, “Really?”
To which he replied, “Sure, go right ahead.”
I said…… “My dad has sinus bradycardia with a rate of 34 with syncope, and probably a vasovagal episode.” The PA then asked me if I was a doctor and I told him I was. Then, and only then, was I finally able to speak to his cardiologist. My dad had a pacemaker later that day. Just imagine if I wasn’t there to be my father’s advocate.
Patient advocacy is not something new to the healthcare industry; as a matter of fact, the complexity of the healthcare system has given rise to this new profession—the patient advocate.
Several organizations provide training to those who want to be a patient advocate including the Professional Patient Advocate, the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates, and the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy, just to name a few. UCLA Extension also has a program that educates people about becoming patient advocates.
A healthcare advocate can be a spouse, relative, friend, caregiver, nurse, or, even better, a physician. Although all patients should have an advocate, unfortunately, many do not. So at its core, our patient advocacy program offers our patients a better understanding of their own medical issues by way of an advocate who has direct access to their medical records, and who can not only communicate with your healthcare team, but subsequently convey complex medical information to you in simple and understandable terms.
Not only that, but we can also instruct you on what follow-ups need to be done and explain medication dosages along with the potential side effects of treatment. Furthermore, we can help you address any other concerns that may arise.
Studies show that having a patient advocate leads to less anxiety, less confusion, and better patient satisfaction. As we all know, this approach is much better than turning to Google, which never leads to anything good. Again, if you would like more information about our patient advocacy program, please contact our office.
Berry, L.L., Danaher, T.S., Beckham, D., Awdish, R.L.A., Mate, K.S. (2017). When Patients and Their
Families Feel Like Hostages to Health Care. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 92(9), 1373-1381.