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I'm passionate about people. I've spent my life in advocacy. People matter - whether or not we agree on the issue, people matter - Ann Marie Buerkle


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"These days, even a person well versed in medical lingo can become overwhelmed by the complexity of the health care system. That is why many patients and their families who can afford it are turning to patient advocates for help. These professionals, who often have nursing or health care experience, can help a patient research treatment plans, sort out insurance claims and even accompany a patient on doctor’s visits. They can frequently open doors to specialists that a patient may not have access to.

Patient advocates have been around for decades, but in the last few years the profession has gained more momentum and acceptance, said Laura Weil, director of the 30-year-old Health Advocacy Program at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y. “Now everyone seems to agree that you need help navigating a fragmented and technical health care system that is not always friendly,” Ms. Weil said."

Before you pay anyone a cent, though, ask some pointed questions. Find out what the advocate’s credentials are and ask for references. Then talk money: find out how long they think it will take to resolve your problem and what the cost might total. Ask them for a written estimate, as well. Source: After a Diagnosis, Someone to Help Point the Way, The New York Times, September 11, 2009.

"Les Funtleyder, author of "Health Care Investing," warns that patients should beware. He says there is no licensing or accreditation for patient advocates and no actual qualifications are required. "You see this at the beginning of almost any new industry," says Funtleyder. "There are always good ones and bad ones, and hopefully the bad ones get weeded out." Source: The booming new profession of patient advocate, Marketplace, American Public Media, September 26, 2012.

And don't forget that we all need to be advocates for people in pain including; •"Knowing the rights of people with pain and having the courage to speak up about those rights. •Becoming educated about issues surrounding appropriate treatment of pain. •Increasing visibility of issues related to pain in your community. •Building a network of pain advocates that will help you increase your voice and spread your message. •Reaching out to people who are influential in raising awareness and determining pain-related policy, such as journalists or elected officials, as well as those in the greater community who will benefit most by learning about their rights to pain care. •Serving as a voice for people in pain through your professional organizations and through research."

Source: What can you Do? In the Face of Pain.