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An Advocate’s Allegiance Makes All the Difference
Just in the past week alone, I’ve been asked three times why someone would hire a private patient advocate when there are so many other forms of help available. What other forms would those be? A variety: hospital patients can call on the hospital’s patient advocate for help cancer patients find navigators to help them through treatment insurance customers can call their customer service rep, or even an insurance company patient advocate a newly diagnosed patient can often find that large disease advocacy organizations, like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or the American Diabetes Association, will provide an advocate to help them sort out questions they may have Yes – those are all resources patients have when they need assistance. And to some extent, patients may find the answers they seek with any of them. But there is something each one is lacking, and that one thing can mean the difference between life and death, the difference between quality of life or lack thereof, or the difference between solvency and bankruptcy. It’s the A word – Allegiance. Unless a patient’s advocate owes total allegiance to the patient, then the patient cannot be sure he or she is getting care or advice in his or her best interests. Allegiance is based on who compensates the advocate and whether that creates a conflict of interest. An advocate cannot afford to challenge the source of his or her paycheck. Therefore, an advocate’s allegiance will be to that payday source first, and the patient second (at best.) If the paycheck comes from the patient, or the patient’s benefactor*, then that’s where the allegiance will lie, and that’s the only way a patient can know that there is no conflict of interest; that he or she is being helped by someone focused on his or her best interests – FIRST. Which means the only way a patient can count on total allegiance is through a private, independent patient advocate. The forms of advocacy listed above which come “free” to the patient cannot, by definition, be primarily focused on the patient’s best outcomes, as follows: The…