Friday, September 6, 2013

Patient Advocacy: Giving Voice to Patients

When you are ill, you need someone who will talk for you and talk to you - an independent
trusted, wise advisor, who is empathetic and rational enough to help you to take the right
decisions. Patient advocates function as a communication bridge between doctors and patients and help patients to access quality medical care. A patient advocate will make you feel safe and well-cared for during your difficult hour because he will go that extra mile to make sure that you get the best care possible. He provides a ‘’by your side’’ service, in which he shadows you to ensure you have an ‘’extra set of eyes and ears’’ monitoring your care.

In a perfect world, there should be no need for a patient advocate, since doctors, by the very nature of their job, are already advocates for their patients. Unfortunately, the need for a patient advocate arises all too often, because doctors and patients no longer seem to be one the same page. There are several reasons for this.

First, doctors are extremely pressed for time. When you know that you have a waiting room full of patients, it’s very difficult to engage in an open-ended conversation with one patient. It’s much easier to announce the diagnosis, pronounce the treatment and send the patient on his way, no matter if he is confused or distraught. Doctors just don’t have the luxury of time to be able to hand-hold their patients anymore, or give them a shoulder to cry on.

Second, doctors love using medical gobbledygook and often forget the impact their words have on their patients. The doctor might think she has done a good job, when the reality is that the patient was so distraught by the diagnosis that he could not neither process the information provided or understand the doctor’s medical jargon.

Finally, many doctors are simply not paying as much attention to their patient as they should.

They order too many tests, don’t look at all the results and don’t listen to what the patient is telling them. These doctors can become very attentive when they realize that someone else who is knowledgeable is monitoring a patient’s care.

Patient advocates provide a variety of benefits:

* Many have medical training and some are doctors. Knowing that another medical professional is watching over a patient’s care often makes a doctor more careful.

* Patient advocates can interpret complex medical information for patients. Some doctors simply can’t or won’t explain things in a way that a patient can understand.

* Patient advocates can transmit important information back to the physician in a way that the doctor can understand. Patients, often because they are upset, have trouble communicating their needs or getting to the point. Since patient advocates have medical knowledge, they can sift out irrelevant information and quickly provide the doctor with an effective summary.

Patient advocates can brainstorm with physicians in a way that the patient cannot, so that they can forge a partnership which helps the patient to get the best possible medical care.

This book explains what patient advocacy is, what patient advocates do and how they do it. Anyone who is ill or wants to help a person who is ill will find this book a useful resource. We all need a helping hand when we are sick.

To find out more please attend our upcoming conference:

Putting Patients First - Patient Advocacy: Giving Voice to Patients
Hall of Harmony, Nehru Center,
Worli, Mumbai 400018.
10.00 a.m. - 1.30p.m.
To register please email:

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