September 2, 2014

Your Advocacy Connection

Long,-Jamison-2013By Jamie Long
GolderCare Solutions and Jamieson Long & Associates

The “Passionate Patient Advocate™”

Why Patient Advocacy?

Patient advocacy isn’t new, but professional patient advocates are.

Advocacy on behalf of patients – the phenomenon of patient advocacy – is as old as the healing arts. Doctors have been advocating for their patients in one way or another since the time there were first doctors. Over the years, doctors, nurses, and other related healthcare professionals have frequently taken the initiative to advocate on behalf of their patients. It was just part of the job.

The profession of patient advocacy, on the other hand, is a new development. Patient advocacy as a field of endeavor is of relatively recent origin. Patient advocacy as a field of study is only now just taking off.
Why now? Why are we distinguishing patient advocacy as its own field at this time in history?

There are a number of factors which have led us to this point. The simple, bottom-line answer, however, is, “Because doctors and other healers can no longer advocate sufficiently on behalf of their patients.” They no longer have the time, the freedom, or the modern-day level of sophistication needed to do it all themselves. They’re having to hand part of it off to other professionals. The added level of sophistication and work required to do the job was simply too much to pile on to the individual healthcare provider’s plate.

The need for higher and higher levels of sophistication among healthcare providers and the trend toward increasing specialization is the first and primary factor leading to a need for professional patient advocates. These higher and higher levels of sophistication and specialization have contributed to make today’s healthcare extremely fragmented. Healthcare today is, in fact, so fragmented that we say it is comprised of “silos of expertise.” Unfortunately, these silos of expertise and knowledge too often don’t talk to each other. This leads to a lot of miscommunication and dysfunction within the healthcare system.

A second and more recent factor has accelerated the need for professional patient advocates. Fewer and fewer doctors today operate independently. Increasingly, doctors are becoming hospital employees. This, in turn, limits the doctor’s independence and freedom to take the patient’s position and advocate for the patient and against the hospital when called for. Doctors who are employees are financially incentivized against effectively advocating a patient’s case against their employer. The result is that too many doctors today are simply not in a position to effectively advocate on their patient’s behalf.

Professional patient advocacy has developed in response to these and other factors. Professional patient advocates can take up where the doctor leaves off to ensure that patients get the advocacy they need. No one can do it alone. Doctors can’t. Professional patient advocates can’t. It takes an independent, well-organized and well-coordinated team of professional patient advocates, working together with the healthcare providers, to see to it the patient’s needs are met.

Today’s fragmented and conflicted healthcare arena has created the need for the new field of professional patient advocacy in order to bridge the gaps and conflicts involved in modern-day healthcare. Those of us dedicated to the development of the field of professional patient advocacy work to ensure that it remains a remedy for the fragmentation and siloing of today’s healthcare system rather than becoming just another silo unto itself.

Jamie Long is the owner of GolderCare Solutions and has earned a Certificate from the Professional Patient Advocate Institute.

Filed Under: Community, Retirement