Patient Navigator is a patient advocacy firm which helps coordinate care, do in-depth clinical research, and find appropriate doctors. As patients struggle to cope with the demands of a trillion-dollar health care system they are increasingly turning to patient advocates for help. The Patient Navigator profession, officially seven years old, now has about 650 advocates — including doctors — and is growing rapidly, handling everything from finding doctors for hard-to-diagnose diseases to negotiating medical payments with hospitals and doctors and pressing insurance companies to cover claims. For example, in one case highlighted in this New York Times article, a professional at Patient Navigator examined a patient’s bills, checking for errors, and ultimately negotiated lower payments which saved the patient at least $10,000. “Nobody teaches us to be smart patients and advocate for ourselves,” said Trisha Torrey, founder of the health advocates organization. The rise of this industry acknowledges the need for advocacy and reflects “not just the difficulties of navigating a complex health care system, but the unequal power relationships between providers and insurers on one side of the equation, and patients and families on the other.”
The article goes on to look more in depth at this industry, acknowledging that finding an effective patient advocate isn’t easy and that advocates can also be costly, which makes selecting a good professional even more important. However, the benefits can be outstanding if a qualified advocate is able to really help make a difference. “Patients can focus on their own healing,” said Elizabeth Schuler Russell, the founder and president of Patient Navigator, “we save them stress, time and money.”
your health today says
unequal power relationships between providers and insurers on one side of the equation, and patients and families on the other.