How is an independent advocate different from a patient advocate who works for a hospital, non-profit disease organization (i.e Leukemia & Lymphoma Society), or insurance company? It all comes down to allegiance. Although other advocates can sometimes provide the same services as an independent advocate, their ultimate allegiance still lies with the organization. Hiring an independent advocate is truly the only way that you can ensure your or your loved one’s best interests are at heart. Independent advocates such as myself have only one priority - the patient.
Other advocates rely on their organizations for their pay. As a result, their ultimate loyalty is to whoever is signing the check. For example, a cancer advocate for a hospital may be helpful in many ways, but it would be a rare situation that they suggest a second opinion outside of the hospital network or discuss alternate treatment plans. Unfortunately, the hospital is going to make the most money off of the patient if they begin intensive treatments within the network. Even non-profit advocates have a conflict of interest. Although they are volunteers, most non-profits are underwritten by for-profit organizations and individuals who have a say in how the advocates operate. For example, a cancer organization that is underwritten by a pharmaceutical company will have a conflict of interest. These conflicts of interest are sometimes easily identifiable, and sometimes more stealthy, but they still exist, and their advocacy is not patient-first.
If you or a loved one are struggling with trying to make decisions that will have the best outcome possible, truly the only way forward is an independent patient advocate. Our sole allegiance is to our patients, and you can guarantee that you are receiving the help you need.
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