A patient advocate is a professional liaison who assists clients in making decisions, understanding policies and obtaining services regarding their health. Through personalizing the healthcare experience, these connectors and humanitarians help patients through difficult health situations and work to ensure fair treatment for those that may not be able to secure it by themselves.
Patient advocates need a working knowledge of the health care system and a solid understanding of medical terminology, health care financing, available benefits programs and patients’ rights. They must be active listeners, strong communicators, critical thinkers, as well as empathetic, organized and resourceful.
Advocates can work independently or for hospitals, health care facilities, nonprofit advocacy groups, or insurance companies. As this is a fairly new industry, educational requirements vary, but most employers look for candidates with a degree in health administration, healthcare management or social work. The ability to speak more than one language is also desirable.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics currently classifies patient advocates as customer service professionals for whom jobs are projected up to decline 2% throughout the decade ending in 2028. However, due to the the growing complexity of the U.S. healthcare system, many other sources have rated the job outlook for patient advocates as excellent, with solid income growth, work-life balance, social impact, and job prospects.