The profession of patient advocate is growing as an ageing population uses medical services on a larger scale. Hence, there is an urgent need to understand what a patient advocate does, their earning power, job description, and requirements to enter into the profession.
The increasing use of medical care to treat complex diseases has led to an increasing need for experts trained to help patients navigate a complex health system.
If you take the time to read about the job description of a patient advocate, you can decide if this is the career you really want to pursue after you graduate from college.
If you are interested in working as a healthcare professional working for patients, you need to be able to deal with people with minds who are in volatile situations and often in emotional states.
For those who are compassionate and able to solve difficult situations, the relatively new title of a patient advocate could be one of the most rewarding healthcare tasks to work towards.
In this article, we shall be exploring what a patient advocate does; their Job description, Salary, and Requirements.
Who is a Patient Advocate?
A patient advocate is a healthcare professional who cares about the wellbeing of an individual patient as well as groups of patients. Advocates can provide patients with a list of resources available after leaving the hospital and help them get the training they need.
Patient advocates help people find their way around the complexity of the healthcare industry. This could include assisting patients with administrative tasks such as verifying insurance claims and medical bills for accuracy and completeness and assisting in rejecting rejection of insurance claims.
This could include helping patients understand difficult diagnoses and treatment options, reviewing prescriptions and medications to make sure there are no conflicts, and helping patients make difficult medical decisions.
What does a Patient Advocate do?
The duties of patient advocates can vary depending on the type of employer. In general, however, they continually support patients to ensure that they are aware of the available resources, including insurance options and health care programs.
Some believe that every nurse is by definition, an advocate for the patient, as this role involves listening and understanding the patient’s immediate nursing needs.
However, others question this definition and see patient representation as a growing field in which independent agents can work to help patients navigate and negotiate in the complex field of medical services.
Patient advocates help patients in different ways.
In a hospital, the role of a patient advocate is fairly new. Some advocates have a wide range of different titles, from patient advocates to guest service advocates, but the roles of individual professionals are inherently similar.
Open and maintain a communication line
A patient advocate plays an important role in reopening the communication channels between patients and doctors or nurses so that all complaints, no matter how simple or complex, are treated.
Patients want to build good relationships with their nurses and doctors, and it is imperative to have a third-party advocate to talk to about nursing problems.
Maintain patient complaints
An advocate will use various methods to hear complaints and investigate the situation on behalf of a patient. In the morning, advocates will consult with nurses and social workers in their departments and units to find out what happened overnight.
After being informed and informed about any problems that may have arisen, the advocate will go round to visit patients and speak to families in crisis.
Ensure the appropriate treatment for the patient
You can make sure that a patient goes to the appropriate doctor. that treatment plans are followed; and that the patient uses all available treatment options. If necessary, the advocates also coordinate care between the doctors.
Additional tasks can include educating the patient, his family and caregivers, and examining a patient’s condition. Some patient advocates also guard a patient’s claims through the health insurance system. They help ensure that the accounting departments submit properly and the insurance pay properly.
Conducts Consumer advocacy
Another area of this profession is consumer advocacy, where a person works on behalf of groups of people, including changing policies or laws that benefit the health of the group.
Being in the hospital can be an emotional experience for both the patient and other people involved, such as immediate family members. Patient advocates work on behalf of patients and ensure that patients have the information they need to make the best decisions about their healthcare.
Educate the patients about the treatment options
Patient advocates can inform patients and their families about treatment options and aftercare, explain patients their healthcare rights or help patients complete applications or complaints related to Medicare.
They often serve as a link between patients and medical staff and communicate patient’s questions and concerns. You can investigate patient complaints and forward them to the appropriate person or agency for resolution.
Helping Patients understand insurance policies
The duty of a Patient advocate relates to the insurance that a patient has. The advocate helps the patient understand what his insurance covers and how much is left after the insurance to pay the bill.
If the patient is not insured, the advocate can work with the facility’s tax office to help create a payment plan that will reduce the patient’s costs.
Medical facilities often lower the total cost of bills to patients based on how much they earn.
Treats patient complaints
Patient advocates are also responsible for treating the complaints that come from both patients and their families. These complaints include both minor and major problems. A minor problem can come from a man who doesn’t like his nurse, or from a woman who isn’t happy with her bedding.
More serious problems can be reports of misconduct, such as a doctor or nurse, who are unprofessional during a surgical procedure or physical exam. The advocate may need to report some complaints to a higher authority in the hospital.
Explain patient rights
An important role for an advocate is to explain patients’ rights. This is often necessary when a patient wants to leave the hospital. Patients have the legal right to review AMA, which violates medical advice.
The advocate must fully explain what will happen if the patient leaves, list the benefits of staying and seeking treatment, and provide other information to patients to ensure they make the right decisions about their own healthcare.
Provides assistance for Payment support
Healthcare advocates work closely with a hospital or medical institution’s accounting and finance departments to ensure that patients do not receive higher bills than they should.
In addition to working with the billing department to send invoices to a patient’s insurer, the advocate will also ask the insurer and that department whether the insurance covers all of the expenses they should and to determine if there is any remaining balance in the department patient name exists.
Advocates can also speak to patients to help them understand their total costs.
Work with Loved Ones of the patient
A patient advocate will also work with a patient’s family to help these friends and family members understand what will happen next and what they can do.
They explain all tests performed on this patient, describe the diagnosis made and explain the treatments available. These relatives often have questions about what the doctor will do and what to do when the patient goes home.
Assistance with the filing of prescription
Advocates can also help patient relatives take precautions to fill prescription medications, have medical professionals come by at home for control purposes, and get medical equipment.
Advocates are employed in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, or other medical facilities. non-profit organizations; Government authorities; Insurance companies; or for-profit patient advocacy companies. Others are self-employed.
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What level of education do I need to become a patient advocate?
Employers of patient advocates may only need at least a high school diploma, although higher education is generally preferred.
However, since this role requires a deep understanding of the health system and the ability to explain diagnoses and treatments, background in the medical industry is preferred.
A bachelor’s or associate’s degree in a health-related discipline would help candidates be the most successful in this role. Some preferred degrees are nursing, healthcare, medical records management, or medical assistance.
There are also differences in the areas of study, with some employers looking for candidates with a business or health degree and others need a degree in social work.
Some colleges and universities offer certificates or courses (usually at the graduate level) that are specifically tailored to patient representation.
These programs often include courses in fundamentals of the health system, case management, health law and finance, healthcare ethics, and healthcare communications. Degree programs can also include an internship in which students can gain experience as a patient advocate in the healthcare sector.
Can I get training as a patient advocate online?
An alternative way to formal training is to consider one of the many online or offline training options available to patient advocates.
Various online and offline programs offer you the training you need for a career as a patient advocate. Some students in internships in hospitals, medical clinics, and health centers during their time in the programs to give them the experience that employers prefer.
In addition, some potential employers find that they speak more than one language.
Several skills are required to succeed in the role of patient advocate. They include:
- Communication skills: This includes written and verbal communication for reading non-verbal information. Communication skills are essential in this role, as patient advocates need to explain the complexity of the health system in simple terms, including insurance firms, insurance coverage options, complex medical diagnoses, treatment plans, and drug information.
You also need to read patient non-verbal cues such as body language and facial expressions to understand what the patient – or his family members – are thinking and not saying.
- Problem-solving skills: These skills include analysis, research, and decision making. Patient advocates may need to help patients find medical care or make difficult medical decisions.
You may need to help patients contest rejection of insurance claims or work with insurance companies to resolve billing issues. These shared responsibilities require strong problem-solving skills.
- Interpersonal skills: These skills include relationship management, collaboration, workplace etiquette, positive attitudes, and empathy.
Patient advocates are often third parties who facilitate communication between hospital administrators, medical personnel, insurance companies, and patients. To be successful in this role, they need to manage relationships and work together to achieve positive solutions.
You also need to maintain a positive attitude, especially for patients who need emotional support in difficult times. Empathy and compassion are important skills in this role.
- Speaking skills: Patient advocates need strong speaking skills to speak comfortably to groups of people, from families to other members of the health community.
- Attention to detail: This refers to the ability to achieve thoroughness and accuracy when performing tasks. One of the main tasks of many patient advocates is to check medical bills and insurance claims for accuracy and completeness. In order to be successful in these tasks, great attention to detail is required.
Does the patient advocate practice need certification?
While not normally required, there are some certifications that can help you become a stronger candidate in your search for career opportunities. These certifications include:
- Board Certified Patient Advocate (BCPA): This certification is designed to ensure the public that the patient advocate has the standards and skills to succeed in this role.
The Patient Advocate Certification Board provides an exam handbook, competencies, and best practices, key terms, and study guidelines to prepare candidates for the exam.
Those who pass the exam receive BCPA (Board-Certified Patient Advocate) certification. This certification must be renewed every three years by acquiring a certain number of training points or by repeating the exam.
- Professional Patient Advocate Certificate Training Program: This program offered by the Professional Patient Advocate Institute aims to bring professionals closer to the practice of patient representation.
The Patient Advocate Certification Board (PACB) offers voluntary professional certifications for patient advocates. This is a new certification, and as of January 2018, there were no training or experience requirements to qualify for the certification exam.
The certificate program is open to all professionals with basic healthcare experience.
How much do Patient Advocates earn?
To determine career prospects, the United States Department of Labor Statistics categorizes patient advocates as customer service advocates. A decline in employment of 2% was forecast for these workers between 2018 and 2028.
PayScale.com reported that patient advocates earned an average annual salary of $43,666 as of May 2022.
A 2017 survey by the Society for Healthcare Consumer Advocacy, a group of members of the American Hospital Association, found that the average salary for the 173 supporters who responded was $51,895.
Only three respondents said they had earned salaries over $100,000 and six less than $30,000.
Those earning their doctorate earned the most ($70,000 to $75,000); Advocates with a master’s degree earned $ 55,000 to $ 60,000, while undergraduate advocates ranged from $50,000 to $55,000.
In another measure, the Indeed.com employment website reports that with more than 250 salaries, the average for this profession was $66,000 in February 2010.
If you want to fill a very important position as a patient advocate in an institution and want to earn a decent salary, the first step is a degree or a certificate in patient advocacy.
The next step is to compare salaries, which range from $22,880 to $70,000 a year, so you can fight for offers.
Working environment for patient advocates
Patient advocates typically work in health settings such as hospitals or clinics with the following characteristics:
- Use computers, fax machines, phones, and other office equipment
- Stand for a long time
- Facilitate communication between insurance companies, administrative staff, doctors and patients
How to Become a Patient Advocate?
Here are the typical steps you should take to pursue a career as a patient advocate:
- Pursuit of training: Find vacancies for patient advocates in your area and determine the level of training required for the role.
No representation is usually required for patient representation, although it’s a highly technical task that requires you to explain diagnoses and treatments.
Due to the medical nature of the job, a background in the medical field can make you a stronger candidate. Consider a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in a medical assistant, nursing, or related field.
- Get your certification: Consider becoming a board-certified patient advocate. Certification as a patient advocate is not required, but it can lead to better opportunities and jobs, as employers know that you have the skills and knowledge to understand the increasingly complex and highly specialized healthcare system.
The certification proves your entitlement to employers, patients and family members.
- Gather relevant experience: Many employers prefer at least a minimum of experience in a clinical setting. If you have no background in the healthcare industry, you should look for internship opportunities where you can gain the basic experience to apply for a full-time position.
You can also gain experience by participating in training programs that include hospitalization or clinic shading at work as part of the curriculum.
- Update your resume: Update your resume with your highest level of education, relevant work experience, and skills that apply to the role. When listing your responsibilities for each role you have held, emphasize the skills that you have used in that role and that apply to the role of patient advocate, e.g. Compassion, customer service, computer skills or attention to detail.
- Apply for a job: Look for vacancies in your geographic area where patient advocates are sought. Apply with your updated resume and cover letter that you have customized for the position
Patient Advocate – FAQs
Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree in an Appropriate Discipline
While some patient advocacy specialists have landed a position in the field with only a high school diploma, a majority of people hired into the field now hold their Bachelor’s degree. Choosing the best degree to start your career can be challenging.
The average Patient Advocate salary in the United States is $62,474 as of April 27, 2020, but the salary range typically falls between $53,680 and $72,451.
In addition to providing comfort to the infirm, these aides can earn between $20 and $250 an hour, averaging about $125 an hour.
A private advocate focuses on that one patient at a time who needs his or her help. Clinical providers are employed by a practice, a hospital, or another providing facility. They derive their paychecks from that organization, which in turn is paid only the agreed-upon reimbursement from insurance
Not all healthcare professionals need a medical degree. Health care advocates work closely with patients, their families, and other professionals who work at the facility.
A patient advocate’s role includes explaining financial information, receiving patient complaints, and helping patients understand their medical rights.
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