Five years ago, if someone suggested you hire a patient advocate, you might ask “what’s a patient advocate?” Today, you’d be more likely to respond:  “Which one do you recommend?” The rise of private patient advocacy services in the United States is impressive, as companies open their doors at a remarkable pace. Whereas only a handful of patient advocacy businesses existed five years ago, hundreds of similar businesses are now open, with someone available to provide assistance in every state.

There are a number of reasons for the steady growth, most of them centered on the increasing size and complexity of medical centers, the decrease in time that most medical providers spend in the exam room, and the perception that medicine grows less and less personal.

Although the increasing availability of advocacy businesses is encouraging, not all patients, or their loved ones, have access to their services. These businesses are still most prevalent in large metropolitan areas, leaving a paucity of services for patients in other parts of the country. Furthermore, advocacy services aren’t free, and cost is still perceived to be a major barrier.

So what does a family do when they need help and a private patient advocate isn’t an option? Currently, they might look for help from a community program, do some online research, or turn to their family and friends for answers.

Pathfinder’s Virtual Advocate

With your help, there will soon be another option: Grab your smartphones, or go online, and find help from the Pathfinder’s Virtual Advocate (PVA).

The PVA is a library of short, targeted videos that address the most common medical challenges patients and families face today. Based on the experience and knowledge of one of the oldest patient advocacy businesses in the United States, the PVA provides solution-based information and support, the next best thing to having an advocate in the room.

Presented in clear, three-minute segments, the PVA will enable users to access video content whenever or wherever they need it. They can get helpful insights and information when waiting in an exam room, after seeing their doctor, in the hospital, or at home.  Imagine having an “advocate in your pocket”, someone to coach you, guide you at a time when you feel most challenged, concerned, and in need of support.

Consider some examples:

  • A family member is calling you to tell you that they’ve just received a devastating diagnosis. They’re not sure what to do next. Are you confident about the best way to respond?
  • You’re leaving the doctor’s office and are unhappy about a referral your doctor just made for a procedure you’re not sure you really want. How do you revisit this recommendation with your doctor without being perceived as “difficult”?
  • You’re reviewing your medical bills from a recent hospital stay, and you’re certain that you’re being overcharged. Do you know how to proceed?

These examples highlight the reasons why current online information isn’t enough: patients and their loved ones aren’t simply looking for facts; they need immediate assistance in making the best medical choices possible and in determining the right  course of action. They need a handy toolbox that’s at the ready, whenever and wherever they want to use it.

Here is how you can help

Pathfinder’s Medical is partnering with Health Tech Hatch, a new health-focused crowdfunding site that supports the growth of new technologies that will make health care better for all of us. Here is a link to our PVA project site.

We would like to extend an invitation to you to “join the crowd” to help make this video library a reality.  We’re all looking for quick, inexpensive ways to improve health care, and this is a great way to do your part.  No one knows when a health catastrophe may strike someone you know.   Wouldn’t you like to have the knowledge that a virtual advocate is on your phone?

Rewards

There are many cool rewards being offered in exchange for your donation, ranging from early access to the Library of videos to the chance to be a “Virtual Advocate Movie  Star” to lifetime membership to Pathfinders Medical and access to all current and future products (a great value!)

So, we hope you will help us achieve our goal by doing any or all of the following:

  • Contribute to the project (early and often!)
  • Send this blog to your family and friends so they can do the same
  • Send us your suggestions of videos you would like to see us produce first
  • Give us feedback on our idea