The path to become a health care policy advocate is flexible and diverse. However, all health care policy advocates enjoy being able to facilitate change, protect patients and improve the cumbersome health care system. Continue reading to learn how you can become an advocate for health care policies.
What is Health Policy Advocacy?
Health care policy advocacy is the processing of supporting, leading and engaging others to protect the health and legal rights of patients. This involves collaboration with a diverse array of legal, government and health care professionals. The goal of health policy advocacy is to promote effective health care laws, standards, systems and regulations. This means that health policy advocates promote improvements for both external patients and their fellow health care professionals. This often comes in the form of advocating for higher professional standards of health care practices.
Why Health Policy Advocacy Matters
Every day, patients experience various health care related frustrations and outrages. Patients deal with mismanaged care, malpractice concerns and unscrupulous health care insurance policies. Similar to walking into a mechanics shop, any patient that walks into a health care facility has no control over the resulting medical fees. Health care costs in America are skyrocketing while insurance and hospitals reap record breaking profits. On the other hand, nurses deal with limited staffing support, managed care bureaucracy and meager Medicare reimbursements. Still, health insurance companies also struggle with health care organizations that take advantage of intentionally vague coding and medical billing loopholes. In the end, state and federal legislators attempt to facility changes without any health care industry experience or a firm grasp of the realities of the situation.
The Path to Health Policy Advocacy
Health care advocates take it upon themselves to encourage reform and collaboration throughout the health care industry. Therefore, anyone can technically become a health policy advocate. That is, any concerned citizen can democratically voice their opinions and advocate for change. However, direct health care industry experience is essential for promoting change. As a result, many dedicated and passionate health care professionals take it upon themselves become involved with health policy reformation. Having professional experience with the realms of law, public policy and the health care are highly recommended.
Health Policy Advocacy Education
While there are no degrees for health care advocacy itself, there are many applicable programs. The most common educational background for a health policy advocate would be a degree in health service management, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Health policy advocates could also study health care leadership, quality management and information systems. A degree in hospital, nursing and health care administration are also desirable. Other notable degrees include nursing management, patient care services and emergency medical services (EMS) administration. Regardless of the degree type, every health care professional with a valid degree will be able to contribute their unique perspective and share their experiential knowledge. Those without a formal degree should pursue health care related education in any field.
Who is the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants?
The National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants (NAHAC) is America’s primary health care advocacy organization. They promote higher standards, educate health care professionals and the public and collaborate with local organizations to promote health care reform. Their goal is to improve the health care system, protect patients and ensure universal access to affordable health care. Joining the NAHAC will provide the health policy advocate with exclusive educational and networking opportunities.
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To conclude, the path to becoming an advocate for health care reform is versatile. Anyone involved with health policy advocacy should have a strong health care background and experience. Keep in mind that anyone can become a health care policy advocate through self-education and local participation in grassroots organizations.