Understanding the role of the patient advocate

Did you know that each Parkview location has their own team of dedicated patient advocates to address any patient concerns? Each facility also has staff members available upon request to meet with patients and families on site to assist them in navigating their care journey. Curtis Smith, corporate director, Community Engagement, and Ashley Brzezinski, MSW, Parkview patient advocate, share more about this important team.

How does Parkview define a patient advocate?

Curtis: The patient advocates, as the name implies, are here to help patients navigate the health system. Sometimes that means dealing with issues that come up for a patient when they are receiving care from us, and sometimes that means proactively helping patients understand the way Parkview works. The advocates work through a broad spectrum of issues and help our patients in a myriad of ways. Just as importantly, they help our staff become more aware of how to help patients and improve the processes of Parkview.

Ashley: The patient advocates strive to ensure that patients and their families are happy with the care and treatment they receive at Parkview facilities. We act as liaisons to communicate with leadership when patients or their guests’ expectations are not met, and help to provide resolution in those instances.

When would a patient interact with a patient advocate?

Curtis: Really any time. I would say most of the interaction occurs during and after a person receives care, but our advocates are ready, willing and able to serve at any point of the process.

Ashley: Advocates are available to assist patients at any point in their journey. Whether it’s making sure a provider or care team is notified of needs and expectations ahead of time, working with a patient during their admission or office visit to meet their requests, or addressing their concerns once they have been dismissed from care, a patient advocate can intervene at any time.

What are some situations when a patient might utilize the help of a patient advocate?

Curtis: When you have a health system as large as ours, there are so many people involved in providing care. We support more than 2 million encounters a year, so there are bound to be situations when a patient needs assistance.

Ashley: Communication is at the crux of most of the concerns we hear. It is such a vital part of a patient’s services! The fact that each of us filters communication through our own lens and perceptions can lead to many opportunities for information to be misunderstood. Other topics that are often brought forth involve timeliness of services, environmental issues and general care issues.

What is the patient advocate’s goal?

Curtis: There are really two main goals: 1) To help any patient who needs assistance in their Parkview health journey, so that they can have the best possible outcome, and 2) To shape the care that Parkview provides and help our teams learn from the experiences of patients so that they can better serve future patients and their families.

Ashley: Our goal is to ensure that each patient and their family is pleased with the services they receive at Parkview, and that they have trust in returning if, and when, they need more medical care.

We are also dedicated to working with leadership to make sure that process changes are completed when an area for improvement is revealed due to a concern that is shared with our office. The advocates enjoy seeing positive changes being made by Parkview leadership and staff to address areas that have been identified as opportunity. Because we really do believe In better.

How do Patient Advocates impact the patient care experience?

Curtis: At the most basic, yet important, level, the team is there to support our patients. When you need the care that Parkview provides, something is usually wrong.  Most people would choose not to need the attention of the staff, so many of our patients are functioning in a manner that is different than normal; they’re scared, concerned and in an unusual setting.  Having someone there to listen and walk through the system with them, creates a tremendous sense of comfort for our patients.

Ashley: We try our best to transform opportunities for improvement into resolutions that prove Parkview values their patients and their feedback. In turn, this creates a positive experience, even when things don’t go according to plan.

What’s the best way to connect with a patient advocate?

Contact a patient advocates by calling 260-266-1244 or email Patient-Advocate@parkview.com.


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