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What Is a Patient Advocate and How to Become One

Patient Advocate

What Are Patient Advocates?

A patient advocate, sometimes referred to as a patient care advocate, supports patients and their families, working to get them the best care available. As a patient advocate, your responsibilities and duties include helping clients understand their treatment options and working with doctors to get the client the best care possible, assisting your client to navigate their insurance coverage, and providing general support to the family throughout the healthcare process.

How to Become a Patient Advocate

There are no education requirements for many patient advocate positions, but some jobs do need an associate or bachelor’s degree in social services or another relevant field. Most jobs require at least two years of experience in healthcare, non-profit, or social services work and provide on-the-job training. To gain experience, volunteer with a non-profit patient advocacy group or acquire an entry-level position in a related field. Once you have the necessary skills to fulfill your responsibilities as a patient advocate, network with healthcare agencies for job opportunities.

What Does it Mean to Be a Patient Advocate?

The healthcare system is often complex, and it’s even more difficult to understand when families are dealing with the stress of illness or injury. Patient advocates help patients and their families navigate the healthcare system and alleviate some of the pressure of trying to get the best care for their family member. To be a patient advocate, you must be compassionate, have excellent organizational and communication skills, and have a strong working knowledge of how the health and insurance industries function. Patient advocates often have a history of serving others in some capacity; many have backgrounds in nursing, social services, and other fields.

How to Be a Good Patient Advocate

To be a good patient advocate, you need to have patience, compassion, and a strong desire to get the best care possible for patients. Stay informed about changes to government and insurance provider policies, as these policies are often modified. Cultivate your communication skills to be able to argue your client’s case to doctors and insurance providers effectively. Understand that the healthcare system moves slowly and can be complicated and frustrating, but keep in mind what is in the best interest of your client.

What is the difference between a Patient Advocate and an Healthcare Advocate?

A Patient Advocate and a Health Advocate share a common goal of supporting individuals in navigating the complex healthcare system, but they differ in scope and focus. A Patient Advocate primarily focuses on advocating for the rights and well-being of a specific patient, providing support and guidance during their healthcare journey. On the other hand, a Health Advocate has a broader role, advocating for health-related issues at a community, organizational, or policy level.

Patient Advocate Job Description Sample

With this Patient Advocate job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a Patient Advocate role.

Job Summary

Our clinic is looking for a Patient Advocate to join our team. In this role, you will work with uninsured patients, screening them to determine what assistance programs or funding sources might be available to them. If they are eligible, you will assist them throughout the application process by compiling supporting documentation, following up on applications that you have already submitted, and informing them of their approval or denial. Applicants should have some experience in medical billing or insurance authorization. Any familiarity with Medicaid or support programs is a major plus.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Screen uninsured patients to determine their eligibility for assistance programs
  • Assist patients with benefits applications
  • Compile necessary documentation
  • Follow up on submitted applications
  • Inform patients of approvals or denials
  • Maintain medical records
  • Answer patient questions

Requirements and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or GED certificate
  • Bachelor's degree a plus
  • Experience in medical billing or insurance authorization preferred
  • Knowledge of basic medical terminology
  • Bilingual communication skills preferred (English/Spanish)
  • Computer proficiency

Patient Advocate Job Description Sample

With this Patient Advocate job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a Patient Advocate role.

Job Summary

Our clinic is looking for a Patient Advocate to join our team. In this role, you will work with uninsured patients, screening them to determine what assistance programs or funding sources might be available to them. If they are eligible, you will assist them throughout the application process by compiling supporting documentation, following up on applications that you have already submitted, and informing them of their approval or denial. Applicants should have some experience in medical billing or insurance authorization. Any familiarity with Medicaid or support programs is a major plus.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Screen uninsured patients to determine their eligibility for assistance programs
  • Assist patients with benefits applications
  • Compile necessary documentation
  • Follow up on submitted applications
  • Inform patients of approvals or denials
  • Maintain medical records
  • Answer patient questions

Requirements and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or GED certificate
  • Bachelor's degree a plus
  • Experience in medical billing or insurance authorization preferred
  • Knowledge of basic medical terminology
  • Bilingual communication skills preferred (English/Spanish)
  • Computer proficiency