Help your patients self-advocate and receive better care

Improve your role in your patients’ care: Tips from a Complete Patient Advocate

A doctor helping two patients.

One of the most important and challenging aspects for patients is learning how to self-advocate as they try to navigate all of the options and choices available to them – this is especially true if they are aging.

Relying on 35+ years’ medical experience, Complete Patient Advocate Marie Connelly helps her clients navigate choices to find the best care possible for their situations. In her daily activities, Marie offers patient care planning, negotiating with insurance companies, and communication facilitation with family and providers.

Marie not only knows the process at a professional level; her own husband suffered a brain hemorrhage a little over a year ago, and she learned firsthand the challenges and factors involved for anyone trying to find the best possible affordable care for someone they care deeply about in a stressful situation.

"People get in the healthcare system and get totally overwhelmed and make bad decisions. I help people look at other options," Marie said.

Since not everyone can afford the services of a professional Patient Advocate, Marie has advice that physical therapists and case workers can use to help improve communication with their patients and to make the decision-making process run more smoothly and easily for all involved.

Communicate better with your patients and help to ease transitions

  1. "It’s so important that the therapy be consistent, as well as the directions given to the patient. Most therapists should listen a little more and talk a little less: be more receptive."
  2. "Make sure that at least someone involved in the caretaking process – if not the patient themselves, then a friend, loved one, or caretaker – has a really good understanding of what’s going to happen when the patient is discharged from therapy, and what their expectations should be."
  3. "Write down instructions in the simplest terms you can come up with. Good communication is essential to successful understanding."

"Every hospital is required by law to have its own patient advocate," Marie continues. "So patients should be encouraged to use these services. What can be tough is when it comes to transitioning back to home or to a different facility. That’s when communication is especially important."

What’s one more basic, straightforward thing that everyone can do to make any environment safer? "Wash your hands more!" says Marie.