The Empowered Patient: Patient Advocate Foundation

posted by Alicia Caramenico

on December 12, 2019

On The Next Big Thing in Health, Alan Balch, CEO of the Patient Advocate Foundation, sat down with hosts Laura Evans and AHIP President and CEO Matt Eyles to discuss why it’s so important that the patient voice plays a part in improving health care. He also shares new ways the health care industry can – and should – empower patients.

Listen to the full interview on AppleSpotifySoundcloud, and Stitcher.

Laura Evans: We’re here to talk about the patient voice – that’s really what it comes down to for you guys. What role does the patient voice play in improving health care?

Alan Balch: Thinking about it at the most individual level, the patient has a role to play in helping be good fiscal stewards and social stewards of the care they’re receiving. We’ve learned from our patients that they want to play that role.

We need to help empower and inform consumers so they’re able to make good decisions about their care, and make sure their care aligns fiscally with what they think is appropriate. We need to make sure that the care they’re receiving aligns with their goals, their preferences, and their values.


Laura Evans: What are you hearing from your patients about this issue?

Alan Balch: We need to create a space for patients to bring what they’re experts in – automatically and inherently – to the table. And that’s what’s going on in their lives, what they are able to tolerate from a logistics perspective. And then we need to look at how we align evidence-based care options with what’s important to patients and the reality of their lived experience.

So, I think part of it is that disconnect between a health care system that’s so focused on treatment and the clinical aspect of care, whereas patients come into this environment feeling like they need to match that intensity, that clinical knowledge. That is important, but there’s been this devaluation of what they already bring to the table, which is who they are as people, their lives, what’s important to them.

We need to align those two things and empower patients to understand how their individual preferences and goals can be used to determine care.


Laura Evans: Matt, how do we make sure that the patient voice always plays a role in improving health care?

Matt Eyles: Alan is very eloquent in how he talks about the patient experience and how we make sure that we hear patients. We really want to understand what they’re experiencing, how they are receiving their care, and what’s important to them. And I know that health insurance providers are spending a lot more time, energy, and effort to make sure that they’re meeting patients and consumers where they are.

When we meet patients where they are, we can understand what’s important, we can direct them to the care that is appropriate for them, have them understand cost and affordability and also quality – which is critically important. Because if we’re just focusing on cost and not on quality and not on the experience of the patient, we’re not really thinking about the full person.

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