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What is a Patient Advocate and How Do They Help Patients?

July 13, 2023

A patient advocate can be a great help when you don’t understand your medical condition or what doctors are telling you. They also can help you address insurance coverage questions and a variety of other concerns.

What is a Patient Advocate?

A patient advocate is an individual who helps steer a patient through the healthcare system, including help with medical screening, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up.

Sometimes called a patient navigator, a patient advocate helps patients communicate with their healthcare providers so they receive the information they need to make informed decisions about their healthcare. Here in Michigan, healthcare facilities must have a policy describing the rights and responsibilities of patients or residents admitted to their facility.

These individuals may also assist patients to setting up appointments for doctor visits and medical tests, as well as help obtaining financial, legal, and social support. Simply put, patient advocates work with healthcare patients on their behalf.

What Does a Patient Really Advocate Do?

The role of a patient advocate may vary greatly in one community to another. One may concentrate their services primarily on nursing advocacy, while others may provide broad advocacy services in a variety of areas. The precise daily routine and task list of a patient advocate will vary greatly depending on the expectations agreed upon between involved parties. Here’s is a list of different tasks for which a patient advocates is often responsible:

  • Healthcare visit support: Patient advocates help patients get the maximum from their healthcare visits. Physicians, staff, and clinical settings can be intimidating to many patients. A patient advocate can help by preparing patients prior to a visit or may even attend the appointment with a patient. This support helps to make certain that the patients is receiving all the answers to their questions and that they’re asking the questions that should be asked to get a full picture.
  • Insurance support: They frequently assist their patients in understanding what they need to know about their insurance coverage. This includes the details of coverage, such as for a specific provider, facility, or procedure, as well as premiums, co-pays, payer reimbursements, deductibles, and other health insurance-related support. In addition, an advocate will work with healthcare financial departments to bill their patient’s insurance appropriately for care.
  • Financial support: Patient advocates will work alongside healthcare billing and financial departments to monitor different financial processes such as billing their insurance, negotiating treatment or care costs, and finding billing issues. They can also help patients locate different financial support programs and organizations that help pay for the cost of healthcare.
  • Healthcare literacy: Healthcare providers may unintentionally forget to discuss information that they think is common knowledge or understood. A patient advocate can help by ensuring that patients and family members understand the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment options, costs, and any other information that may be uncertain ort incomplete after speaking with a doctor or other healthcare professional.
  • Patient rights: A patient advocate can help a client with issues concerning their rights as a patient to make certain that healthcare workers and insurers provide proper care. A patient advocate will help patients understand both local and federal patient rights laws and find any care concerns. They’ll then make suggestions or act to resolve or correct any problem. In fact, in some cases they may help with seeking out legal representation.


For a free consultation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney in Michigan, contact Buchanan Firm. We are proud patient advocates.

Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Detroit, Lansing, Holland, St. Joe, and Ann Arbor, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after hours, at home, or in the hospital to accommodate you.

Contact us today.