Coordinating your care: What’s the difference between a care manager and a patient healthcare advocate?

As seniors get older, their care needs increase. By the time a patient begins qualifying for senior care services like nursing homes, adult day care, or in-home care, their healthcare plans become comprehensive, ranging from help with housework, to daily caregiving to help to coordinating doctor’s visits and running their household. Coordinating those moving pieces has turned into an industry unto itself, with a patchwork of experts who each handle a different part of the coordination process.

How do you know what kind of expert you need? We’ve broken it down for you.

Nurse care manager/geriatric care manager

This is a broad category, and one that covers a wide variety of professionals in many different settings. Care managers can work at hospitals, nursing homes and adult care centers, for home health/senior care companies, and as independent consultants. But they all have one task in common—the logistical coordination of their client’s care.

In most cases, a care manager will be responsible for the scheduling and billing of care staff, seeing that doctor’s orders are carried out for medicine disbursement and doctor’s visits, coordinating with family caregivers, and ensuring that their client is living in a healthy, safe environment. Their job is being a logistical hub for a senior’s care. The scope of the service they provide depends who employs them. For instance, if your care manager works through a hospital, they will be coordinating from hospital to home to your primary care physicians/specialists. If your care manager works for your senior care company, they will be coordinating care with your care staffers, home maintenance professionals, and medical care team. If you hire a care manager as an independent consultant, they can manage every aspect of your care.

Healthcare Advocates

Healthcare advocates truly serve as an champion for the patient, ensuring that the patient is at the center of any healthcare plans. They help a patient navigate the healthcare system, making sure they see the right specialists at the right time, fighting for their care rights with government payers and supplemental insurance companies, and helping patients set up treatment plans that work best with their lifestyle and financial needs. They often work in hospital environments, but can also be hired as independent consultants. They can be especially helpful for patients that have challenging, ongoing, and comprehensive care needs.

The important thing to remember is that these jobs are not mutually exclusive of each other. In many cases, a client might have a healthcare advocate to help them get their plan in place and monitor the larger plan and payments, while a care manager works through an organization like a in-home care agency to manage the day-to-day details of care. Are you interested in finding a care manager or healthcare advocate? Our ally companies can help you.