Many patient advocates
come from the medical community and have backgrounds as RNs or physicians. They’re well aware of the time constraints present in the healthcare system and strive to balance patient needs with the limitations physicians face.
“I coach my clients on the fact that the practitioners we’re going to see are ordered by the system to move patients through,” Deutsch says. “I brace them for the fact that the national standard is eight to 15 minutes for a patient visit. We have to prepare for the fact that we’re likely only going to be seen for 10 to 15 minutes and oh, by the way, while we’re there the physician will be documenting and on the computer; there’s a lot going on during that time. So I make sure we’re very well-organized, we’ve got the questions all mapped out, and I’ve got the patient prepped.”
Tulloss counsels preparing practitioners for the patient advocate’s arrival ahead of time. “To avoid potential challenges, I always recommend clients inform their providers early on of their intent to work with a private advocate,” she says. “I also make sure that if I’m attending appointments or hospital visits, either myself or the client informs the healthcare team beforehand. HIPAA forms are submitted in advance, and I keep a copy on hand. This helps to ensure there are no surprises.”
Mcilnay works closely with clients before an appointment to outline and prepare any questions they might have, as well as assemble a high-level view of the client’s issues. “I usually do a summary sheet before the appointment that lists our issues, and if it’s a client with multiple issues, usually there’s an acknowledgment that we realize there may not be time to address all of these different problems,” she says.
For patients with complex medical needs, Mcilnay may give a copy of the summary to the medical assistant, who will give it to the clinician to look at while the patient is being checked in. “My goal there is that they can scan over it and make sure there aren’t issues that they feel are higher-priority,” she says.