Patient Advocates are Not the Enemy

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media , April 5, 2013

The center is looking at access to proper care, mental health and inpatient-outpatient transition issues, self-management issues and obesity and heart care. This should, she notes, help with preventable readmissions and access to care.

The center is working to develop a low-income patient navigator program with funding from the Kaiser Foundation of Georgia targeting patients at or below 200% of poverty level. They're also working on transportation to doctor visits and for the uninsured, helping fund the doctor visit. Child care issues, prescription access issues, and durable medical equipment needs are all important aspects of keeping patients out of the hospital.

Lang is heartened at the way fiscal incentives are forcing hospitals to have this focus. "I'm not sure if this could have happened in the past because it's hard for hospitals and others to accept the positive role that advocacy can have," she says. "I would never have been in this role a few years back."

While the proof will be in the progress the center makes in the next few years, Lang is encouraged because she feels many of the problems with the poor population and healthcare can be solved much less expensively than many assume.

"I emphasize the win-win all the time, because it's there for hospitals and patients," she says. "Often what [the poor] need is not very expensive."

Philip Betbeze is senior leadership editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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