The 2014 enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) brought sweeping changes to the delivery of American healthcare. It also created an emerging healthcare career and an opportunity for Clark College’s Customized Learning team to work with regional and state healthcare leaders to create a Patient Health Advocate (PHA) training program, with the potential for national impact.
Clark’s Customized Learning partnered with regional healthcare providers and other Washington colleges to build a common core program to train and certify PHAs working in hospital and clinic systems. Patient Health Advocacy emerged as a new, non-clinical support role, serving as a liaison to manage care among patient, provider and other healthcare team members, with the goal of obtaining optimal delivery of care.
PHAs work with patients to help them identify resources, coordinate their care and navigate the healthcare system. Advocates also assist patients in connecting with behavioral and social services, when appropriate. By working with Health Advocates, patients learn to be proactive and take responsibility for their own health and wellness. As a result, healthcare systems better accomplish the Triple Aim: improved health, enhanced patient care experience, and reduced cost of care.
Realizing an opportunity to improve and bridge a gap in the care system, Customized Learning assessed the needs of the industry and developed a program for a new class of healthcare workers. Clark’s team identified skills and competencies needed for a new Patient Health Advocate role and developed a training program to meet those needs. As a result, Customized Learning‘s program is now an industry standard for the Southwest Washington region.
As the oldest Baby Boomers reach their 70s and experience more health problems, it is estimated that the need for PHAs will increase dramatically.
“This is a profession that is emerging rapidly,” said Michelle Giovannozzi, Clark’s director of Economic Development & Partnerships.
“Clark’s Customized Learning is developing a career pathway across the healthcare industry. People on state and national levels are watching our progress to plan for their workforce needs.”