Dr. Ananthakumar Thillainathan is a doctor who focuses on primary care. He believes that patient advocacy is an important part of being a physician. He’s here to explain patient advocacy and why it’s important.
What is Patient Advocacy?
A patient advocate advocates for a patient’s rights or desires. This can include allowing patients to make their own decisions about their care. Advocates may also speak to others on behalf of the patient to help them get the appropriate level of care.
Healthcare team members, including doctors and nurses, can advocate for the patient. The patient’s caregivers can also advocate for the patient. Ideally, everyone involved in the patient’s care and treatment will advocate for the patient in different ways, which helps to provide the best outcome for them.
Advocating for the Vulnerable
In some cases, the patient isn’t able to advocate for themselves due to physical injury or illness, age, or mental challenges, Dr. Ananthakumar Thillainathan notes. In other cases, the patient must be better informed to advocate for themselves effectively.
Because doctors encounter patients who are in a vulnerable position, they must advocate for their patient’s needs. Caregivers should also provide support and advocacy, particularly for vulnerable patients.
Liasoning with Other Healthcare Professionals and Caregivers
A doctor who advocates for their patient may need to speak with other healthcare professionals or the patient’s caregivers on their behalf. This can involve creating a comprehensive care plan with all patient healthcare team members. It can also include discussing the patient’s wishes or treatment plan with family members.
Educating Patients and Caregivers
Educating patients and caregivers are an integral part of patient advocacy. Advocating for a patient means ensuring that they understand their condition and their treatment options.
The doctor may need to explain medical terms or discuss different types of treatment, allowing the patient to make an informed decision. It’s also important for the patient to understand the potential treatment outcomes and how their condition changes over time.
Caregivers can advocate by being present when the doctor is discussing treatment or progress with the patient, according to Ananthakumar Thillainathan. They can also ask questions to ensure they and the patient clearly understand.
Providing Competent Care
Patient advocacy also means providing them with the best care possible. A patient advocate seeks the best interest of the patient. Patients should receive the best medical care based on their condition and situation.
Caregivers should also understand how to provide competent care. In addition, they should hold healthcare providers accountable if they are concerned about the patient’s level of care.
Doctors and other healthcare team members can also offer resources for patient advocacy. This may include providing the patient or caregivers with organizations that can help with medical supplies, home care, or meals.
Dr. Ananthakumar Thillainathan is a primary care physician. He began his practice in 2012. He is the owner of MD Care Now. The MD Care Now clinic offers walk-in appointments for the entire family.