5 Duties of a Patient Advocate

Patient Advocate Duties

  • Insurance Policies
  • Patient Complaints
  • Explaining Rights
  • Payment Support
  • Worked With Loved Ones

A patient advocate is a health care professional who looks out for the best interests of an individual patient as well as groups of patients. Advocates can provide patients with a list of resources available to them once they leave the hospital and help arrange for them to get the education that they need. Looking at some of the duties that a health care advocate does can help you decide whether to pursue this career path.

Insurance Policies

One duty of a health care advocate relates to the insurance that a patient has. The advocate will help that patient understand what his or her insurance covers and any remaining amount leftover after insurance pays the bill. If the patient does not have insurance, the advocate can work with the financial office of the facility and help create a payment plan that lowers the costs the patient pays. Medical facilities will often lower the total cost of the bills that patients receive based on how much they make.

Patient Complaints

According to Monster.com, these advocates are also responsible for handling the complaints that come from patients as well as their loved ones. These complaints include both minor and major issues. A minor issue may come from a man who doesn't like his nurse or a woman who is unhappy with her bed linens. More serious issues can include reports of misconduct like a doctor or nurse who acts in an unprofessional manner during a surgical procedure or a physical exam. The advocate may need to report some complaints to a higher authority in the hospital.

Explaining Rights

One important role of an advocate involves the explaining of the rights that patients have. This is often necessary when a patient wants to check out of the hospital. Patients have the legal right to check out AMA, which is against medical advice. The advocate must fully explain what will happen if the patient leaves, list the benefits of staying and seeking treatment and provide patients with other information to ensure that they make the right decisions regarding their own health care.

Payment Support

Health care advocates work closely with the billing and financial departments in a hospital or medical facility to ensure that patients do not receive higher bills than they should. In addition to working with the billing department to send bills to a patient's insurance provider, the advocate will also check back with the insurer and this department to see if insurance covered all the expenses they should and to see if there is a balance left in the patient's name. Advocates can also talk with patients to help them understand their total costs.

Worked With Loved Ones

A patient advocate will also work with the loved ones of a patient to help those friends and family members understand what will happen next and what they can do. They will explain any of the tests performed on that patient, describe the diagnosis given and explain the treatments available. Those loved ones often have questions about what the doctor will do and what they should do when the patient goes home. Advocates can also help the loved ones of patients make arrangements for filling prescription drugs, having medical professionals stop by the home for check ups and getting medical equipment.

Not all professionals working in the health care industry need a medical degree. Health care advocates work closely with patients, their loved ones and other professionals working in the facility. The duties of a patient advocate include explaining financial information, taking complaints from patients and helping patients understand their medical rights.

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