In 2021, three leading professional societies representing patient and health care advocacy: HealthAdvocateX
came together to form the Health Advocacy Collaborative Ethics Task Force (HACE). The purpose of their first-ever collaborative project was to review and update the Code of Ethics to align with the current times.
While it is normal practice for professional organizations to review and update relevant standards and codes on a regular basis, the past few years have introduced new pressures on organizations to ensure their ethics policy is a living document. The pandemic, advancing DEI initiatives, media information/disinformation and technology disruptions to name a few, point to the dynamic changes affecting our world. Significant disruptions like these prompted the formation of the HACE task force.
Educational institutions and employers often fall short in providing training and resources to support ethical professional conduct
. As an emerging professional practice, patient and health care advocacy professional societies must fill that void. In fact, guiding members through professional ethics is a central responsibility for professional societies.
In theory, ethical decision-making should be the standard of behavior and not need to be formally taught. In practice, however, ethical misconduct occurs frequently, and as technology advances, the opportunities for unethical behavior increase each year. A code of ethics clarifies roles and responsibilities within a profession and provides guidance to the professional for addressing common ethical questions. Ethics involves making value-laden choices. As such the Collaborative Code of Ethics for Patient and Health Care Advocates outlines the ethical principles to aid in the advocates’ execution of their duties as members of the profession.
Advocates in particular come from very diverse backgrounds and may be guided by several codes of ethics and standards of practice that relate to their respective industries, licensures, certifications and employer relationships. These codes may be complementary or contradictory, requiring the advocate to exercise judgment about the framework that applies to a specific ethical question or situation.
The HACE plans to continue collaborative efforts to help inform a competent workforce of patient and health care advocates. A NAHAC webinar about the Code and the development process is planned for June. The task force hopes to encourage broad adoption of these Standards across the professional advocacy community and invites all interested parties who wish to learn more.
NAHAC is dedicated to improving patient outcomes through the promotion of the profession of healthcare advocacy through education, community, and collaboration.
HealthAdvocateX is a national nonprofit with the mission to transform people into active participants in their care. HAdvX educates, connects, and inspires people to include advocacy in all aspects of health and healthcare.
PACB is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to manage and maintain a universally recognized certification for patient/health advocates; establish and maintain relevant knowledge domains, skills, ethical standards, and best practices for advocates; collaborate with healthcare consumers to achieve patient and family centered care; establish professional development for certified advocates; and promote and professionalize patient advocacy.