Patient advocacy is a role that is intertwined with the nurses’ role of providing quality healthcare. Patient advocacy presents an opportunity for the patient’s rights to be observed whenever the policies and priorities are set in healthcare. Patient engagement has been given much consideration in the redesigning process of the healthcare. Health policy makers have felt the push of advocacy airing the needs of patients and ensuring that the right decisions are initiated. The main goal of patient advocacy is to have the needs of patients placed at the center and make sure that health activities concentrate on achieving the patient’s best health. The patients are to be treated as equal partners therefore their contribution to decisions concerning their wellbeing should be supported. Patient advocacy follows the principle of “nothing about us without us”. A plan created for patient advocacy will follow the steps described below.
The first step requires developing an understanding of the issues. This is necessary to discover and gather more information that will help articulate the issue of patient advocacy. A successful advocacy plan depends on how well one has an understanding of the issues and on-going policies affecting these issues. In this step, it will be important in determining why the issues are a major concern to the advocate, patients, and to the health policy makers.
The next step will involve defining the aim and objectives of the advocacy process. The objectives set should be smart. Some of the objectives may be to enhance public awareness, enhance the role of patient organizations, ensure there are opportunities for patient involvement in research, and promote good practice in offering health care. Setting of objectives is crucial in creating networks and alliances with other patient organization with the same motives.
The next step of the plan requires knowing the audience and understanding their influence on these patients. This will involve the identification of relevant groups, organizations, and people affected by the identified issues. After identify of these stakeholders, there is need to develop an understanding of the views and interests of these stakeholders. This will be followed by mapping where a visual overview of these stakeholders will be made. This makes it possible to prioritize the stakeholders and issues.
The next stage in the plan will require developing key messages. These key messages will be an elaboration of the objectives. The messages should be structured in a way that will make the audience care. The messages form the foundation of the communication process. The advocacy message needs to be clear and simple, free from technical jargons. It is these that will convince policy makers and guide the development of policies in the future.
The next stage in the plan for patient advocacy is the most critical and involves development of strategy. The strategy offers a roadmap of how the objectives will be achieved. This shows the sacrifices and decisions that will be made to ensure the most efficient utilization of resources. The key building blocks of the strategy include the aim, objective, and strategies. There will be need to select the advocacy tools to be used in the implementation stage. After this, the implementation of the plan will be carried out. The implementation process requires to have set milestones for checking progress. It is necessary to engage various groups and maintain working relationships. Following this, there should be a champion to ensure the health policy makers gain influence (European Society of Gynaecological Oncology, 2013).
The Affordable Care Act and Patient Advocacy became a law through a presidential assent in 2010. This was a new beginning to the path of ensuring quality, affordable healthcare for the people of America. The act covered a variety of health issues meant to benefit the people such as promoting insurance, elimination of the lifetime and annual limits, and provision of inclusive health services and coverage for individuals with pre-existing impairments (Ronnebaum & Schemer, 2015).
The act introduced major changes on the various policies governing the healthcare sector. One of the most famous changes was on insurance. All employers were mandated by the act to ensure that all employees were covered in a formal insurance cover. It was a major achievement for the category of individuals not comprised as part of a large group that would be covered under the traditional insurance agreements. The groups of individuals living with terminal health conditions that would not be covered or were overcharged got to benefit from the new policies prohibiting any form of discrimination. The laws also provided protection havens for individuals from company abuse. The insurance companies were mandated by the act to ensure that they accept all applications received without discriminating on premiums payable on the basis of the health status. The Act also put a cap on the amount that the insurance companies are to use on insurance in relation to the medical benefits offers (Shaffer, 2013).
In their practice, nurses are required to identify and respond to different new demands that develop from the ever-changing and increasingly complex healthcare system. In this era, there have been numerous new regulations, accreditation requirements, professional standards, need for enhanced accountability, and financial responsibilities. In all this buzz of activity, the nurse and the management have a responsibility of introducing and sustaining competencies to deal with changing fields of practice, quality, and desired patient care safety. The nurses have a responsibility in the connected politico-societal healthcare environments, characterized by the growing shifts and disconnects on the patient requirement and shortage in personnel, and resources.
In practice, nurses endeavor to attain safe practice that can guarantee the patients of quality care. This requires them to carry out succession planning and manage competing priorities in a cost effective manner. As practitioners, responsibilities concentrating on safety, quality, efficacy, and effectiveness are necessary to attain safe practice (Swihart, 2009). There should be enough career development as well as continuing education programs on development, management and leadership. The nurse therefore has a great contribution that they can make to advocate for safe practice. Nurses can do this by ensuring the mitigation of risks originating from changes in the patient’s health conditions (Choi, 2014).
As a health practitioner, patients’ advocacy will be highly relevant. This will be useful in offering therapeutic line of communication with the patient which facilitates the process related to humanity. Nurses are required to integrate the patient’s cultural diversity into the plan. This mandates them to act as protectors for the patients against being handled by inexperienced practitioners and incorrect procedures. It will be within my practice’s procedure to identify the social and medical factors that affects the wellbeing of the patients. Playing the role of an advocate will require acting on behalf of individual patients and raise the issues of concern where the patient is not in a position to air them. The guidelines for patients’ advocacy require the recognition of the duty of acting in manners that seeks to uphold the personhood by maintaining a relationship with the patients (Ronnebaum & Schemer, 2015).
Playing the role of an advocate engaged with the American Cancer Society requires me to stand up and represent patients. It will be critical to reveal any unfair practices and policies in the current system. It will be very important to enhance awareness and openness in the matter of clinical trial on the management plans and drugs for cancer patients. There have been past cases where insurance companies have cancelled the policies of individuals engaged in various clinical trials. Playing the role of an advocate will require handling this issue in a manner that raises awareness and increases the understanding of need to engage in such trials.
Carrying out advocacy functions in my practice will require me to oversee the representation of the interests of the patients. This can be effectively attained by analyzing the psychosocial and physical distress to ensure plans are made for them. The patients will be brought on board and enlightened on the cancer management practices to ensure they give informed consent. As an advocate, I will take charge of exposing the needs and preferences of patients with regard to the healthcare system.
One of the most noticeable changes in the healthcare sector is the adoption of health informatics and electronic health records. These changes created new responsibilities for the advocates in terms of using the internet related service. There is a surge in the number of people seeking medical information on online platforms. This new development has forced the development of new policies to govern the new sector. The e-patient system of advocacy is expected to generate key interest. There have been developments of new patients who are more informed due to access to the internet where they seek more information concerning the condition of their interest. This has seen the increased empowerment of patients. There has been increased adoption of social media platforms where open source content is available as well as innovative technologies that help create personalized and user-generated medication.
New governing principles to govern the access on medical knowledge have been set up to influence the expanding roles in the patient advocacy. The advocacy will have to enhance expansion of the evidence and knowledge to promote safe practice within healthcare institutions. To achieve this, there will be need to enhance the mode of interaction by engaging a multidisciplinary team aiming to increase understanding of the emerging situation. The environment where medical practitioners operate mandates an open system of passing and evaluating the practices with an aim of enhancing the knowledge level.
The continuous research and changes in the policies are likely to provide new insights pertaining to quality healthcare. This brings new ideas of how to integrate the patient safety into the whole patient care system. Safe practice will get a wider scope stretching beyond healthcare institutions and expanding to the larger community. This will imply that advocates will have broader roles of ensuring that their advocacy functions fit well on the system installed with an objective of achieving safe practice and effective healthcare.
It is likely that more foundations offering increased levels of funding to support the responsibility of patient advocacy with an aim of increasing the level of safe practice for the patients will be formed in the future. The increased finding will equip the stakeholders with resources to support the function of patient advocacy. Patient advocacy will extend beyond the traditional patient relationship to incorporate advocacy even at the level of research and development.
There is need to maintain learning experiences among the practitioners. Nursing advocates will be charged with the responsibility of supporting nursing research and research-based practice and ensure overall general improvement. Patient advocacy can only be effective where it enhances the representation of the views of patients and ensures the promotion of safe practice across the healthcare sector. New goals and objectives will be established to ensure the success of advocacy in the new era. Medical sector has numerous and dynamic issues that will require consideration in the development of the new policies. The views of all stakeholders need to be integrated into the process of policy formulation.
Agom, D., Agom, J., Nweze, O., & Onwe, S. (2015). Concept Analysis of Patients’ Advocacy: The Nursing Perspective. International Journal of Nursing Didactics, 1-4.
Choi, S. C. (2014). A Field Stdy of the Role of Nurses in Advocating for Safe Practice in Hospital. Journal of Advanced Nursing , 1584-1593.
European Society of Gynaecological Oncology. (2013). Guide to Patient Advocacy
Kibble, G. (2012). Patient Advocacy In Nursing Practice: A Systematic Literature Review. Turku University of Applied Science.
Negerandeh, R., Oskouie, F., Ahmadi, F., Nikravesh, M., & Hallberg, I. (2006). Patient Advocacy: Barriers and Facilitators. BMC Nursing.
Shaffer, E. (2013). The Affordable Care Act: The Value of Systemic Disruption. American Journal of Public Health, 969-972.
Swihart, D. (2009). Nursing Professioanl Development: Roles and Accountabilites . Medscape .
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