“What is a Health Advocate?”
“Boy could we have used you when…”
“Wow people really need someone like you these days!”
I hear comments and questions like the above more and more! As a private professional Health Advocate (sometimes known as a Patient Advocate, even a Health Advisor), things have been busy.
We calm things down during crises and problem solve
The more complex the world of healthcare gets, the more challenging it becomes to navigate. Some of the smartest people I know who are familiar with and knowledgeable about healthcare face situations where they are unable to think clearly due to a health crisis within their own family. When your health or a loved one’s health is at risk an atmosphere of anxiety and fear develops. It is helpful to have a professional who can calm the emotions, sift through what is going on to identify the most urgent problems and begin to develop paths to solutions. From years of experience on the business side of healthcare and a Masters in Counseling, I’ve strengthened my listening skills and ability to manage a crisis. The field of health advocacy or patient advocacy is relatively new but rapidly growing due to the demand and necessity. I am proud to be on the Board of Directors of the not-for-profit Patient Advocacy Certification Board (PACB) that recently launched a national standard certification test for patient advocacy.
Health or Patient Advocates facilitate clear communication: common understanding, reduce opportunities for errors, informed decisions.
Patients with complex health problems by definition have more information than your average individual to comprehend and convey to multiple providers. A provider’s goal is to accurately and efficiently collect information to evaluate a situation. But depending on a patient's experience at home, information has heavily relied on verbal communication which is instantly a source for error. As a health advocate I am familiar with this particular situation and take the necessary steps to gather the worthwhile information by doing the following:
While I often feel like a translator, my experience and credentials help to bridge both the patient’s and clinician’s needs. I work hard to establish and maintain solid relationships with clinicians which builds trust as well as broadens my healthcare network resources and continues to expand my knowledge.
A goal of mine when working with different patients and crises is to strategize a way to communicate efficiently and empathetically. Based on my experience, patients and their families hate feeling helpless and like they have no control. When patients understand where they stand, their possibilities, and solutions it gives them a greater sense of control and a more grounded perspective when making decisions regarding their treatment.
One of my proudest moments as a Health Advocate
Recently I walked back into an ER bay where my client was being evaluated, having just updated her family. Yet another ER doctor had just walked in and asked her why she was there. As he looked up at me wondering who I was my client said, “This is Lee. She is MY health advocate. She can tell you everything you want to know”. Well, maybe…only my client knew how she was actually feeling right then! But I knew the rest.
Wishing you good health,
Lee Mulert, MBA, MS, CSA
Founder & CEO