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 by sending them your name and contact information, plus a brief description (1-2 sentences) of your request for help through email, or by calling them at the phone number listed.
- 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 answers to these questions:
- Learn more about their credentials.* Ask the following:
- Do you have background, training or experience providing this service?
- Have you handled other cases similar to mine?
- How long have you been a private, independent advocate?
- 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?
- 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? Do you have time to handle the work I need to have done?
- Do you have references? (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. Alternatively, you can check their directory profiles testimonials which may not be added by individual advocates.)
*Be advised: as of mid-2017, there is no national certification in patient advocacy. Advocates will begin certification in 2018.
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.)
- 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.)