The United States' health care system is complicated - and getting more and more complicated by the day, as the nation adjusts to the changes wrought by the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, which is set to take effect next year. So whether it is you or a loved one who is ill, how do you handle the issue? What can you do to navigate our country's broken health care system? Who is going to fight for you?
That is where a patient advocate can come in. Such a medical expert can do a variety of things to help you and your loved ones with. Here are some of the things they may be able to assist you with:
Getting you through the fragmented health care system in this country
Barbara Abruzzo, RN, a patient advocate and Healthcare Navigation Specialistâ„¢ with Livingwell, says that these days, with so many specialists and subspecialists, the people who deal with in the health care system may not really have a cohesive picture of your health." They rarely have a complete picture of you as a person, understanding the demands and stresses of your daily life, and what you may need on different levels," she says. And you may not have the medical knowledge to effectively advocate for yourself.
However, a patient advocate, especially if they have a background in the medical field, can talk to you and get a better picture of what your health situation is. The advocate can also look at the information you have already received, and analyze it and explain it so you know better what to do, as well as talk with the medical professionals involved.
Finding you the right care and the best care for you
When you need to see a specialist, your primary care specialist may simply refer you to somebody in their network, or somebody they are acquainted with, instead of the specialist who would be the right person for you. The same goes when referring you to a hospital. With a patient advocate, the person will find the specialist who can give you the right care and the best care for you, and who would be a great fit for you. That helps make an impersonal system very personal, and also help you get the health care that can work well for you.
Talking to a patient advocate can potentially minimize your risks in the hospital
Did you know that around two million people get a hospital-acquired infection each year, and 90,000 die of it? Those are staggering numbers. The number of people who die of such infections is more than those who die of things like diabetes or pneumonia. And yet, this is underreported, and most people are not aware of the risks involved.
Talking to a patient advocate can help you minimize your risk when it comes to going to the hospital. The advocate can give you guidance on how to stay safe in the hospital, and give you practical tips on how to do so.
Improving your overall health and wellness
A patient advocate may also be able to improve your overall health with things like diet and nutrition, an exercise plan, and supplements advice tailored to your own health situation. They can also help you understand your illness issues by explaining it to you in a way a physician just may not have time to do. In addition, if you have multiple health issues, the patient advocate can explain how they may affect each other.
Depending on your personal situation, getting a patient advocate on your side may be a great decision for you. Good luck.