Just as there are several conditions that can lead to pain and several treatments that can help relieve it, there are many different types of patients. There are those with robust support systems who face their diagnoses surrounded by family and friends. There are those who come in with a dedicated person who is ready to fight for them and others who come in, educated and ready to fight for themselves. And still, some come in with no one. These are the patients who are feeling overwhelmed by options and information and isolated by their pain. These are the patients who too often fall through the cracks.
We don’t have to tell you doctors are busy. Other providers are, too. Time always seems to be scarce in healthcare; that’s just a fact of the industry. Unfortunately, this means that if patients don’t know how to voice their questions and concerns, they may not get as much time as they deserve and need.
Patient advocacy is the key to ensuring that this doesn’t happen. Between helping patients keep track of their medications, treatments and appointments and simply keeping them hopeful, advocates support patients in multiple ways. This is important because it can actually aid a patient’s recovery. An article published in Pain made the point that catastrophizing and fixating on pain can cause significant emotional distress, disturbing sleep and contributing to the continuation of chronic pain. It also theorized that anything that distracts from these thoughts could improve sleep and help patients find some degree of relief from their chronic pain. This theory is similar to the one that prompts so many people to integrate cognitive behavioral therapy into their treatment plans.
Not only does support play an important role in patient recovery, it can also be helpful to patients in other ways. While undergoing medical treatments, patients may not want or have the ability to focus on the minutiae of their treatments. This can be to their detriment since the details can make all the difference when it comes to treatment. A New York Times article reported that up to 90% of all medical bills contain errors. For patients with chronic conditions, this is a big deal since any medical costs can quickly add up over time.
At ReclaimAbility, we work to ensure this doesn’t happen by partnering with and advocating for patients as we guide them through the options available to them throughout their treatment. Whether a patients’ advocates are family members, friends, healthcare providers, or themselves, there are a few traits all advocates have in common.
More than championing the patient’s legal and human rights, an advocate has the obligation to inform and support a patient. This means that he or she must have the ability to be impartial and prevent personal biases from clouding his or her judgment.
At ReclaimAbility, we take the time to educate our patients on their conditions. We speak to them about their options, but more importantly, we listen. We do all we can to understand each individual’s situation so that even those without intricate support systems receive the highest quality of care.