Flexibility: Medium

Social Engagement: High

What’s What: Healthcare is complicated. From the moment a patient begins to interface with providers, private doctors, insurers and pharmacies, the questions begin to mount. Every patient needs a team, so it should be no surprise that there is a growing need for health care advocates at insurance companies, pharmacies, hospitals and health maintenance organizations. There are even a growing number of companies who exist to provide services to patients, helping them untangle access, reimbursement, prevention and other aspects of healthcare management.

Amava Take: If you’ve got advocacy skills, patience and a problem-solving brain and have been involved in any aspect of the medical-industrial complex, you could be a great candidate for a position as a healthcare advocate. There are few things that affect people more than the delivery of health care when they need it. You can join an organization that hires in this capacity or put on your self-starter hat and start your own healthcare navigation service. Either way, you can do some good while doing a job that’s in high demand.

From the Front Lines:

What kinds of candidates are you looking for to fill these jobs?

People who understand how the complicated medical system works.

Any tips for first-timers to make it a productive and fulfilling experience?

Get to know the insurers you will be dealing with and try to find some contacts on the inside so there’s someone you know who can help you when a billing or treatment approval question arises.

What’s a typical daily schedule like?

Generally, positions at a company or provider can be part-time or full-time, but people who want more flexibility can start their own company to advocate for client/patients and help keep them organized.

From the Trenches:

What’s the most satisfying part of the job?

Getting that reimbursement that was initially denied!

How would you describe the hard parts?

The system is highly bureaucratic and complex, so there’s quite a bit of waiting for results involved.

What’s one thing you’ve learned about the healthcare system that you didn’t already know?

Mistakes get made so often in billing and coding.

Special Requirements: The job functions and required qualifications for Healthcare Advocates are varied, but a bachelor’s degree is a must and experience in healthcare is extremely helpful. Some training can be picked up on the job but becoming a Certified Case Manager (CCM) through the Commission for Case Manager Certification is the most promising path.

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Finding a Position: Joining an organization like the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates is an excellent step in finding advice, support and networking in the field whether you want to hang your own shingle or connect with an organization. National job boards have listings under healthcare advocate or patient advocate, and don’t give up if you want to do this, these jobs were originally hard to find but are becoming increasingly more common as the health care landscape continues to be unstable. Hospitals hire health care and patient advocates and so do companies all over the country.