Throughout my career, I have prided myself on being able to support patients through their medication treatment journey. It is fulfilling each time to know that you are helping people overcome barriers to necessary treatment. My position at UBC has also afforded me the opportunity to gain knowledge of the different avenues of patient advocacy.
What is patient advocacy? Patient advocacy is defined as “a person who helps guide a patient through the healthcare system.” Patient advocacy can play out in various ways. Critically, there are many times when there may be a lack of understanding of the different resources that are available to assist patients through their treatment journey. Patient advocacy is not limited to advocating for healthcare decisions but also includes providing patients with the resources and tools they need to advocate for themselves and possibly prevent barriers that may slow the patient’s treatment journey.
Below highlights some of the resources patients and/or their caregivers may utilize:
- Patient Support Services: patients for certain therapies are given a chance to enroll in patient support services. These resources help them to overcome hurdles related to insurance and finances, as well as continued resources to encourage proper use of the therapy throughout the course of treatment. This can include:
- Benefit optimization
- Financial assistance eligibility determination
- Co-pay offers
- Disease state education
- Medication reminders
- Mobile and digital engagement
- Patient Appeal: patients may write a letter to their insurance provider to appeal an adverse decision regarding their treatment. The appeal should include, in the patient’s own words, what they feel the impact on their health and quality of life may be if their condition is left untreated. Hearing directly from the patient, insurance companies may take into consideration the long-term effects a patient may face if their illness is left untreated or treatment is delayed.
- Charitable Resources: many charitable organizations may be able to aid patients in a variety of different ways. Charitable organizations may include non-profits, churches, community centers, disease society groups, and disease support groups. The resources they provide can include, but are not limited to:
- Transportation for medical appointments
- Parking and toll reimbursement
- Discount service offerings – laundry, pet services, cleaning services
- Insurance premium assistance
- Clothing, food, and utility assistance
I saw the power of advocacy when my dad was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. With various doctors’ appointments, tests, scans, and medication, the financial burden became an overwhelming obstacle within my dad’s journey. Through many avenues of support, my dad was able to obtain much-needed aid through various organizations and undergo the treatment he needed.
I am also privileged to see patient advocacy every day in my role at UBC. Our Patient Access Services team members live out our Patients First standard by taking on the role of advocate for the patients they work with. I am proud to play a part in helping patients get the assistance they need to achieve optimal outcomes.
UBC’s goal is to educate, support, and provide resources to patients and caregivers to give them a voice and the tools necessary for their treatment journey. Through access and affordability, clinical education, and care coordination, we design services that meet the unique needs of the specific patient and their therapy. To learn more, click here.
About the Author
Beth Wright is the Director of Program Management at UBC with a focus on patient support services. With almost 20 years of experience supporting and managing patient support services, Beth uses her experience to drive continuous improvement for UBC’s Patient Access Services.