Programs that help people navigate through the maze of doctors' offices, clinics, hospitals, outpatient centres, insurance and payment systems, patient-support organizations and other components of the health care system with the objective of supporting timely delivery of quality care and ensuring that patients, survivors and families are satisfied with their encounters with the health care system. Personal health care advocates are trained health care workers, often nurses, or volunteers familiar with the health care system who work independently of any health care institution. They help patients identify specialists, coordinate appointments with providers to assure timely delivery of diagnostic and treatment services, provide "cheat sheets" of questions, and lay out the choices patients have in plain English. They may also ensure that appropriate medical records are available at scheduled appointments, accompany patients to medical appointments, arrange language translation or interpretation services, facilitate financial support and help with paperwork, negotiate insurance claims, arrange transportation and/or child/elder care, provide access to clinical trials and facilitate linkages to follow-up services. Some programs contract with employers to serve as personal advocates for employees who are ill; and others work exclusively with individuals who have specific illnesses, e.g., cancer.
Programs that maintain information about community resources that are appropriate for a specific target group or human services sector (for example, youth programs or addiction services) and which link individuals who are in need of specialized services with appropriate resources and/or which provide information about community agencies and organizations that offer specialized services.
The above terms and definitions are part of the Taxonomy of Human Services, used here by permission of INFO LINE of Los Angeles.