Interview and Hire a Patient Advocate in 4 Easy Steps:
1. Figure out what services you need from an advocate.
2. Do a search for an advocate who offers the services you need in the patient’s location.
3. Contact them (see below) to see if they are available to help you. (You may reach out to as many as you like.)
How to Contact a Health or Patient Advocate
- Once you have identified advocates who may be able to help you, make initial contact either by phone, or by sending them your name and contact information, plus a brief description (1-2 sentences) of your request for help through email.
- Keep in mind, depending on the services needed, an advocate may not need to be located near you. Many services can be provided remotely.
- Interview them carefully to be sure they offer the services you need. See sample interview questions below.
- Remember – You may contact as many advocates as you like.
How to Interview a Health or Patient Advocate
Once you identify an advocate who may be able to help you, you’ll want to ask these questions:
- What are your advocacy or care management credentials?
- Do you have background, training or experience providing advocacy services?
- Have you handled other cases similar to mine?
- How long have you been a private, independent advocate? What sort of advocacy work did you do prior to creation of your own practice?
- Do you subscribe or adhere to a Code of Professional Standards?
- Have you recently undergone a background check? If so, will you share the results with me?
- Are you a BCPA? (Board Certified Patient Advocate) or do you have other certifications or licenses? (There is no licensing for advocates in any state or province. There are a handful of relevant certifications.)
- What do you charge for your services? (Learn about the cost of hiring an advocate.)
- Do you have professional liability and/or Errors and Omissions Insurance? (The great majority of advocates must have insurance to protect you and themselves. There are some special cases where E&O insurance is not mandatory, but those are rare. If the advocate you are interviewing says he or she does not have E&O insurance, ask them why not. If the answer sounds plausible, then you can decide whether you want to continue with the interview.)
- Does anyone else pay you for helping me? (Some advocates are paid a commission for placing patients in a specific nursing home or with other services. They may be less objective, so you’ll want to know more about any potential conflicts of interest.)
- Do you have an idea of the approximate amount of time it will take you to handle the services I need? If not, how can I get an estimate?
- What is your caseload? How many people do you work with at one time? Do you have time to handle the work I need to have done?
- Do you have references? Beyond the testimonials on an advocate’s directory listing, are they able to provide you with references from other people they have worked with? (Regarding those testimonials: we monitor those added to the AdvoConnection Directory to be sure they are added only by bona fide clients of that advocate.) Please remember that advocates may understandably be reluctant to give you names and contact information for references due to privacy laws. However, it would make sense to ask them if they will ask a former client to contact you to provide a reference.
Additional, optional interview questions, depending on the services you need:
- Are you “on call” 24/7 or do you have specific hours?
- Is your location in proximity to the patient? (Many services do not require the advocate to be nearby. In fact, there may be benefits to an advocate who is not local if the services you need are billing or claims related.)
- Do you provide reports on services you provide in my absence? (Important for situations where the caregiver lives in one place, but the patient – such as an elderly parent – lives somewhere else.)