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Business of Health Care: Patient advocates

This is one of six articles in the Business of Health Care series. 

Between doctors, nurses, technicians of various stripes and other support staff, as a patient, receiving care in a hospital can be confusing, even daunting at times — and that’s if everything goes according to plan.

But sometimes a hospital experience doesn’t go exactly as expected or hoped for, and a patient or family member has questions, concerns or even a complaint.

In such circumstances, patients and families need an ally who knows how to operate in a complex healthcare setting.

That is why nearly all hospitals have patient advocates.

Though patient advocates are employed by the hospital, they work for the patient and their family.

They serve as liaison between care providers, other hospital staff and support service areas to address concerns and pursue a resolution to any issues that may arise during the course of a hospital stay.

Their goal is to correct any issue or resolve any concern before a patient ever leaves the hospital.

A good patient advocate will take a patient or family concern as high as it needs to go to have the issue adequately addressed.

While hospitals may see thousands of patients, like any service-oriented business, the last thing hospital leadership wants is for any patient to leave dissatisfied.

That’s why many hospital administrators view patient advocates as their eyes, ears and sometimes their right hand of action in keeping patients and their families happy.

This report, and other episodes, are available at KWBU.org.

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Business of Health Care: Patient advocates