Avera Medical Minute: Member Health Advocates

member health advocate Lauren Clark
member health advocate Lauren Clark(KSFY)
Published: Sep. 20, 2019 at 4:03 PM CDT
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When a patient sees a doctor, that interaction is just a part of the care. Knowing that there can be barriers following a doctor's orders is what the member health advocates specialize in. It's all a part of an Avera Health Plans and DAKOTACARE Membership.

Lauren Clark is a member health advocate. "The conversation starts as simple as, here are your preventative benefits, and leads into maybe some things that are a little bit heavier on people's hearts and kind of what's happening in their home," said Clark.

A health advocate may also be connected with a patient during a doctor's visit, or a stay at the hospital, where there is a concern for the patient's well being at home.

"The concept of the member health advocate was really to begin addressing what we call the social determinants of health. What are those financial barriers? Some of those personal barriers, those emotional barriers," said Dr. Preston Renshaw, Chief Medical Officer, Avera Health Plans and DAKOTACARE.

One of the barriers for a patient receiving care is transportation. They would like to go to a doctor's visit but have no means to get there. That's when an advocate can step in and let that patient know about resources available, right in our city.

Advocates can get back in touch with a doctor when a prescription cost is out of reach for the patient.

"How can we get you A: support on the medication funding, or B: notify your provider that this medication really is not going to work, because of these barriers?" said Dr. Renshaw. What plan of action can we change to make this individual successful?"

Sara Hansen, Avera Health Plans and DAKOTACARE Manager of Risk Adjustment shares a story of how she could impact a member's life. "I reached out to this member to educate them on wellness benefits, and it turned out they were about to lose their power because they couldn't pay that bill and I was able to connect them with a resource in the community to keep their lights on," said Hansen. "That has nothing to do with their healthcare but at the end of the day that's what they're going to remember about that experience with Avera, and that's what we want."

Member health advocates are a part of the Avera Health Plans and DAKOTACARE at no additional charge. The goal is to see each patient flourish, by having the means to be cared for, far beyond the walls of a doctor's office or a hospital bed.