Frequently asked questions: Advocacy

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Get in touch!

For more information on our advocacy services, please contact our Advocacy Line at (608) 890-0321 or advocacy@patientpartnerships.org.

What is health advocacy?

Advocacy can take place at the individual level, with each patient and family, or at the systems level, within groups, organizations, and institutions.

At CPP, we help students and partners learn about systems through patient advocacy, or work with individual patients and families. Our staff and students also engage directly in systems-level advocacy projects, applying lessons and evidence to help inform and expand decision-making options among policy-makers, health systems administrators, medical education teams, and community partners.

What is patient advocacy?

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement defines a patient advocate as a “supporter, believer, sponsor, promoter, campaigner, backer, or spokesperson.”

What does patient advocacy mean to us?

It means helping people with serious illnesses find the care they need. It means helping patients, families, and providers communicate, negotiate, and make tough, important calls.

We educate teams of graduate and professional students in the best way we know how—by giving them an opportunity to support real patients and caregivers in real situations. This commitment to education and advocacy is only matched by our commitment to equity and access. As such, all advocacy services at the Center are offered free of charge.

We serve patients with life-threatening and serious illnesses and their families, regardless of income or residence. It’s not our position to manage a patient’s care for them—we empower and encourage our clients to captain their own ship whenever possible. Client and advocate decide together what kind of advocacy is necessary.

Among other things, we help clients:

  • clarify diagnosis and treatment options
  • make decisions based on those options
  • negotiate coverage with insurance providers
  • help clarify financing options for treatments
  • and build their own self-advocacy skills as needed

Who do we serve?

Anyone with a serious or life-threatening illness, regardless of income or residence. We do not advocate for individuals whose primary diagnosis is mental illness or chronic pain. While we consider chronic pain and mental illness vitally important for the healthcare system to address in a patient-centered capacity, we do not have the expertise or the resources to effectively advocate for these issues.

Which phone number do I call?

For advocacy services, call our Advocacy line at (608) 890-0321 or email our advocates at advocacy@patientpartnerships.org. For general questions , call our Business Line at (608) 265-6267.

Is there a cost for advocacy services?

No. Our advocacy services are free and available to anyone with a life-threatening or serious illness. In return, we ask you to share your journey with one of our students. While we don’t charge for our services, we depend on the generosity of individual donors like you. We rely on small contributions—clients and families who find our work valuable often choose to make a gift to the Center in support of our education mission.

How long will I work with an advocate?

We want to help you along your healthcare journey as efficiently as possible. Our student advocates provide services on a semester schedule. Semesters are three to four months long. Whenever possible, we try to complete advocacy within one semester. Your advocate will work with you to create an advocacy timeline.

Of course, not all issues can be resolved within a semester timeframe. In those cases, we’ll work to transition your case to another student advocate.

Is my information kept confidential?

Yes. Staff, student, and volunteer advocates sign a Confidentiality Agreement and receive training about confidentiality and ethical practices. We will only release information with your authorization. If you have additional questions about privacy, read our Privacy Policy or ask for a copy of our Authorization for Release of Information Sheet.

What is “empowered, patient-centered” advocacy?

Advocacy is a partnership. You have a significant role in advocacy, and will likely need to continue advocating for yourself or family members long after our work is complete. Therefore, advocates at the Center will not do all the work – we will work with you, in partnership. Sometimes you may not be able to provide as much self-advocacy as you would like. During these times we will provide additional support and/or help you create a support network of family and friends.

What is the value of working with a student?

Our students are committed to providing meaningful, effective advocacy and are supervised by a staff of professional advocates. These students will soon become professionals working within the healthcare system. By experiencing health care from your perspective, they will be better providers and stakeholders in the healthcare system.