Importance and Value of Patient Advocacy

 Published: January 2, 2020

By: Heather Willden


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Patients are your top priority. Caring for them must be comprehensive and should be a partnership. RTs can be advocates for their patients. Your 2019 National Respiratory Patient Advocacy Award Winner Kayelene Horne, BSRT, RRT-NPS, RCP, AE-C, shares her best practice tips for patient advocacy.

Kayelene’s Tips

photo of kayelene teaching children about respiratory conditions
Kayelene Horne teaching children about respiratory conditions.
  • Focus on the patient you are currently working with.
    Build trust when working with your patients and their family members.
  • Ask open-ended questions and listen to answers within the conversation.
    Allow them to share their stories and listen to details within the conversation.
  • Use relatable terms and examples.
    I try to teach and use relatable examples, so the patient will have a better understanding of what is being asked and to gather accurate information about the patient and their situation. For example, coughing is the number one sign of asthma. Other signs and symptoms are chest tightness, shortness of breath, increase work of breathing and wheezing. Ask the patient, what are your asthma signs and symptoms? How does that make your body feel? What are you doing when this happens to your body? In the last two weeks, how often has this happened to you? Listen to their answers and allow them to share.
  • Educate on how to communicate with providers.
    Teach the patient what kind of questions to ask and how to ask them. For example, what does this medicine do to my body and how does it help my asthma? Why is it important to take every day? When can I come off this medication?
  • Assist your patient in navigating the health care system.
    Encourage the patient when and how often it’s appropriate to visit the primary care provider.
  • Provide resources available to patients and providers.
    Provide information to patients and providers about the impact of the disease process and resources available.
  • Look at the whole situation, the bigger picture.
    Encourage patients to participate in [a] social determinants of health screening tool that provide resources for basic needs: safety, food, shelter, transportation and disaster relief. Improving the conditions and environments people live in will ultimately improve the quality of life and patient outcomes.
photo of kaylene holding award at respiratory patient advocacy summit
Kayelene Horne is the respiratory care manager of the Pediatric Asthma Program at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, NC. She received the 2019 National Respiratory Patient Advocacy Award at the annual Respiratory Patient Advocacy Summit.

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Heather Willden

Heather Willden is the Director of Governance and Strategic Initiatives for the AARC where she works with state affiliates as the HOD liaison. She also manages DEI efforts and strategic initiatives. Connect with her about these topics by email, AARConnect or LinkedIn. When she's not working, you can find her podcasting with her husband, exploring new hiking trails, photographing, and spending time with her family.

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