What Does a Patient Advocate Do?

What exactly does a patient advocate do? And why would a company need to hire one?

I am a patient advocate who works with companies, both big and small, to help them improve upon the services or products being offered in healthcare. Having a patient advocate on board at a company says:

  • We are a company that cares about the patient perspective, education and the safety of patients
  • We are a company that wants to make an impact on the healthcare community
  • We are a company that believes we have enough power to change lives, so we’re enlisting help to make sure we do so responsibly and positively. 

I help executives to better understand what goes on in the daily lives of patients–giving them the kind of data that helps to refine everything from the way they speak to patients, to the way they organize their workflow around them, and makes them an important part of the quality control.

Who are the kind of companies I work for?

Biotechs. Healthcare Apps, Healthcare Products, Pharmaceutical Companies, Venture Capitalist Firms ( looking to invest in healthcare companies), Patient Influencers, Genetic Sequencing Companies, Imaging Companies and Labs, Consumer Healthcare Products (OTC, in store.), Insurance Companies, Marketing and Advertising Firms, Medical Device Companies, Retail Stores (Who may have any interaction with someone who has a disability or chronic disease), Human Resource Departments (for company-wide sensitivity training), Media (publishing any stories associated with healthcare) or any other companies who will be dealing with real people with health issues!

Here are some things I do as a patient advocate:

  • I write or review content for websites and promotional material (make sure no one puts their foot in their mouth by giving inaccurate information, using offensive language, and keeping scientific terminology to a minimum while still giving thorough explanations.)
  • I create partnerships with advocacy groups and healthcare companies.
  • I connect patient ambassadors and patient influencers with healthcare companies.
  • I write smart, funny and relatable speeches for executives presenting at conferences or being interviewed by the media.
  • I act as a patient liaison for companies, answering questions from patients and assisting companies in responding in meaningful ways.

Here are some examples of how I’ve helped companies in the past.

Ilana on Lifetime TV in 2017

A company needs exciting programs to keep their patients engaged in their services or products.

From global online support groups to picking the perfect hashtag, I help my clients by not only getting them in front of the right audience–but keeping them there. Having extensive experience in the non-profit industry, I’ve created programs for patients that have played out on social media, at industry and patient conferences, in exam rooms, and in blog posts and magazine articles. If you’re looking for unique, creative tools to keep your audience from straying– we can make it happen.

A company is looking to make partnerships with related disease organizations and non-profits.

When it comes to treat patients effectively– it simply can’t be done without trust. How can companies build trust with patients? By gaining approval from their major advocacy organizations. Non-profits are responsible for providing education, resources, and support for those dealing with disease. They are often made up of an executive staff, a professional advisory board, a medical advisory board and a patient advisory board. These boards work together to ensure that their organization provides the most accurate, useful, and relevant news. Their proverbial (or sometimes literal!) stamp of approval can go a long way in earning the trust of patients. Companies can hire a patient advocate to help connect them with these disease organizations and navigate a mutually effective partnership, collaboration, or review.

A company is creating a website or promotional materials or ads for their product or service that patients will see or use.

It only takes a few misplaced words to destroy a company’s image. Patient communities are very sensitive to certain terms and labels to describe their community. Companies can find themselves in hot water by not putting in adequate disclaimers about a product or services limitations, by not explaining their services or product in a way that is understandable to the average consumer, or by using unrealistic or sensational language to promote themselves. A patient advocate can review or create content that will be relatable, comforting, empowering, and reviewed for clarity and accuracy.

A company is looking to capture the human element of their story.

Whether I’m working with leading scientists or established CEO’s– everyone could use a little nudging back to the origins of why we do what we do! I give all of my clients and their staff company-wide sensitivity training. We work on the “who” we’re trying to help and work together to find the emotional reasoning behind a company’s mission. I work with my clients to then take case examples and turn them into media campaigns and pitches to mainstream publications. I also review all public speech materials to give executive members a truly personal touch to their statements.

A company is looking for ambassadors or influencers to promote their product/service.

In 2019, we have to ask ourselves: if it isn’t happening on Instagram– is it even happening? It’s so important to have real people representing brands. That’s why I help connect my clients with inspiring personalities with big social followings. Not just anyone can vet a healthcare product though–so whether it’s a specialist physician or a real patient, my database includes influencers and advocates who are ready to be a part of your program.

Ready to get a patient advocate on your team?  You can see my full resume here.

When you’re ready– Reach out and send me an email at IlanaWrites@gmail.com.

#ChronicIllness #rareDisease #patientAdvocacy #autoimmune #biotech #pharma #pharmaceutical #CEO #entrepreneur #healthcare



1 thought on “What Does a Patient Advocate Do?”

  • Good Morning Ilana,
    Just reaching out here. After reading your bio, I have a few connections I would like to run by you. Also, just interested in an Insta chat. Let me know some times that might work for a short call. I am pretty busy through the day M-F, but over this weekend or evening next week? Thanks, Courtney

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