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Advocate Is Not a Dirty Word

advocate
Last week’s blog-versation about whether doctors could truly understand and represent a patient’s point of view brought out a very different point — one that could use some exploration.

As a medical professional, what is your first thought when you hear the term “patient advocate?”

Do you roll your eyes?  Recoil at the thought of how much time an appointment might take with an advocate present?  Put up your mental defensive “I know what’s best for this patient and you don’t” dukes?

In short, do you automatically go to the negative side of your reaction meter?

Or do you (please say yes!) welcome the advocate who accompanies your next patient and show him or her a chair in the exam room?

Patient advocates want exactly the same thing you want for your patient: successful outcomes.  This will come as no surprise to the more enlightened of you, and as a major surprise to those who gird their attitudes when they hear or see that an advocate may be involved in a patient’s care.

An advocate’s intention is not to come between you and your patient; rather, it’s to make sure that your patient understands the challenges in front of him and then follows through with whatever course the two (or three) of you have determined will work the best.  The result is a more informed patient, one that has a better chance of regaining or maintaining improved health.

Facilitation — not interference.

Think of it this way:  If your spouse or your child were sick, wouldn’t you want someone you trusted (like yourself?) to accompany her/him to the doctor to facilitate the conversation and the next steps?  Would you send him/her alone and expect the outcomes to be nearly so good?

A good advocate is a great ally for you.  Knowing you have the same goals, and being respectful, can only create more adherence/compliance and better outcomes.

If you are inclined to think anti-advocate thoughts, then I ask you to try a different approach.  See if a handshake, a smile, and a more inclusive attitude won’t make your day a little brighter — and your patient a little healthier.

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Learn more about Trisha and her work.

Learn more about Trisha’s book
You Bet Your Life! The 10 Mistakes Every Patient Makes

(How to Fix Them to Get the Healthcare You Deserve)

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