Patient Advocate: What Is It?

Worksite health centers are incredibly effective at lowering healthcare costs and providing a top benefit to employees and their family members. A Physician-led model offers the opportunity to completely reinvent the primary care experience for patients. Regardless of whether your health center is staffed with a Physician, Nurse Practitioner, or other provider, there is still a tremendous opportunity to enhance the health center’s value proposition. Enter the Patient Advocate.  

A Patient Advocate’s role is to act as the connecting point and care coordinator for all services related to the health and wellbeing of the patients of the worksite health center. They educate patients on healthcare services and help them navigate through all aspects of their healthcare and the complicated healthcare system. If, for example, a patient needed to be referred to a specialist, the Patient Advocate would ensure that the appointment was made, that records were transferred in all directions, that the physician reviewed the records after the appointment, and that the patient was prepared for their visit.

Why is a Patient Advocate a necessary addition to the worksite health center model? Many health center vendors promise that the clinic provider will proactively engage high health risk patients, coordinate and manage referrals to outside providers, and serve as a resource to patients for all of their employee benefit questions. Unfortunately, most vendors fail to consistently execute on this promise. The reason? Once in remote health center, sometimes with just a Medical Assistant, the onsite clinician focuses on what they have done their entire career: delivering excellent patient care to whoever walks into the health center.

Once a Patient Advocate is added to the model, there is an onsite resource focused on driving outreach and patient engagement efforts. Along with helping with scheduling, care coordination, and patient education, they ensure that the physician and patients no longer have to worry about things like transferring records and setting up appointments with specialists themselves. A Patient Advocate provides peace of mind to the physician and the patients.

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