A patient advocate should have many qualities that help you navigate the healthcare maze and offer ease and comfort when working together. Your patient advocate can support you in specific ways, like during hospital visits, or through your overall healthcare experience. We’ve put a list of five must have qualities together that we think should be at the top of your list.
Listens More than He/She Talks
Before advocacy can begin, your patient advocate needs to spend a fair amount of time listening to you. This person needs to understand the situation, past happenings, your desires for the future, problem areas you’ve encountered, your immediate needs, as well as a number of other things that are relevant to your impending relationship.
You’re Confident He/She Understands Your Situation
Each hospitalization or health care incident can be complex in its own right, nevermind your overall history or fully situation. Your patient advocate needs to take the time to understand what has led you to where you are; hear the things you’re struggling with and what’s going well; review medical information, bills and other documentation; and be very clear on your goals and desires. Moreover, they need to have knowledge of the medical industry and its workings, so they can successfully help navigate your healthcare.
He/She is a Champion for Your Goals
Once a thorough understanding of your situation has been communicated, your patient advocate needs to take charge and be a champion for your healthcare goals. As a patient who is not always familiar with the ins-and-outs of the medical industry, it’s hard to know what what steps are needed to help you meet your goals and it’s easy for your needs and requests to get lost and tossed around between providers, insurance companies, and various contacts. With a strong champion who is skilled at negotiating and facilitating, you’ll have a better chance of finding the right path and getting what you need.
Beyond being a champion for your goals, your patient advocate needs to be proactively persistent to move things along in reasonable time period. When it comes to healthcare, there are so many balls in the air at the same time. Your patient advocate needs to be organized and persistent with both you, and your caregivers and providers. Persistence will show all involved in your health care that you’re after what you want and your advocate and you are willing to work hard to get it.
Natural Sense of Caring
There will likely be times during your healthcare journey that you need compassion, empathy and great deal of emotional support. It only makes sense for your patient advocate to serve you in this capacity as well. As you share your desires and encounter challenges, a naturally caring patient advocate can make all of the difference to your mental health.