In this week’s post, I wanted to share a project I have been working on. It revolves around the area of Patient Advocacy. Today, patient advocacy is an emerging field in healthcare. If you have been a patient or have had a family member or friend who is a patient, you know that navigating the complex healthcare world is challenging. Not to mention, it is costly and, many times, unsafe. Having a patient advocate who can be by your side can relieve stress, allow you to focus on your family member/friend, and give you peace of mind so you can get through each day.

I have had the pleasure over the past ten years to learn and participate in this emerging practice. At first, I did not understand the difference in what a patient advocate does compare to what I did as a nurse and a case manager. Over the years, in talking to people in patient advocacy, I learned more about the practice, but it was not until I became a patient in 2014 that I understood the real value advocates bring. Patient Advocates are in place for the patient and the family. For the most part, they are independent of the payer and the healthcare system. This allows them to focus on your needs separate from the politics of the various entities that make up the healthcare system. Advocates interact with the healthcare team to meet the needs of their clients needs and navigate the complex healthcare system. Having an advocate makes a difference and allows you to see outside of the very rigid healthcare system.

I have often said that the healthcare system is in place for the healthcare system. It works just as it is designed to work. Today, people (you and me) are paying more and more of our healthcare costs. So being an active member of your healthcare is critical to ensure your care meets your goals. Doing this is not easy because the healthcare system is fragmented, complicated, confusing, and expensive. Navigating the healthcare system is hard, especially if you are sick. Patient Advocates are there for you…for your family, and they work to make sure your wishes/goals are known.

I have recently worked with three leaders in patient advocacy to produce a conference titled International Conference on Patient Advocacy. The conference’s goal is to bring advocates together from around the world to network, learn, and share information to promote the practice. We had our first conference in October 2019. It was a successful event with great comments from those who attended. We were all looking forward to working on the 2020 event but were sidetracked as so many were due to COVID-19.

Like many, we pivoted and looked at what we could do to keep the momentum going. Our opening night plan had been to have panel discussions with advocates around the world. We had been expecting many advocates from different countries to attend and wanted to highlight the work they do and the similarities and challenges each face. So we reached out to those who were planning to attend and asked them to do a short video to share their stories. We had a great response, and I am pleased to share the link with you to see and learn about this emerging practice. What I learned from watching was that advocates are passionate and share a common bond, regardless of the country.

Take some time, watch each of the videos, comment on them, and share them with your family, friends, and colleagues.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. We will be adding more in November.

Thanks for reading my Blog, Nurses Advocate! Have a good week.

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