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Health Care Consumer Advocacy Degree

The bachelor's degree in health care consumer advocacy is the first of its kind in Indiana and prepares you to serve as a health care advocate for health care consumers, caregivers, families, and health care teams. National, state and local communities have an increasing number of complexities and obstacles to obtaining and providing equal access to cost-effective, high-quality health care for an increasingly diverse population. You'll build the knowledge and skills to provide service to health care consumers, their families, and those who serve in a health care capacity. Your knowledge will include, but not be limited to, understanding diagnoses, prognoses and potential outcomes; explaining the availability of treatment options, and facilitating payment-for-care options. 

What are some of the roles and responsibilities of the health care advocate?

  • Serve as a liaison between the patient and the many complexities of the health care system.
  • Provide services for the patient, which may include, but not be limited to, obtaining prescriptions, filing insurance claims, and conducting home care evaluations.
  • Assist patients in understanding, developing, interpreting, and following health care plans (i.e., medicine dosages and frequencies).

Employment opportunities

The field of health care advocacy is currently experiencing strong demand, with hundreds of openings for trained professionals in settings that include:

  • Hospitals and other medical facilities
  • Community clinics, rural medical practices, and Indian Health Organizations
  • Oncology, diabetes, integrative health, and other specialty practices
  • Elder care facilities
  • Community agencies focused on public health and/or indigenous populations
  • Social service agencies
  • Care/case management systems
  • Large employers, especially those that are self-insured for employees' health care
  • Health advocacy organizations
  • Advocacy groups that focus on training advocates to help patients and medical practices find and resolve billing errors.
  • Professionals, such as physicians, nurses, social workers, and attorneys working in a variety of settings to advocate on behalf of patients.

The advocacy role is increasingly important in the era of the Affordable Care Act, with providers compelled to make services more efficient and affordable, and with the focus on preventive health care. More services are delivered at retail clinics, stand-alone labs and other outpatient settings, rather than traditional hospitals and doctors’ offices, so being able to navigate all of these options is vital.

What specific skills and knowledge will I be able to provide an employer?

  • Explain the history and purpose of the health care system in the United States.
  • Define the roles and responsibilities of the patient advocate.
  • Provide accurate guidance through the multiple transitions of personalized health care for consumers.
  • Explain the laws and legal issues related to patient advocates as they work in various health-related areas.
  • Demonstrate an awareness and application of medical ethics, ethics committees, and public health care policies.
  • Explain the Affordable Care Act and its implications for health care advocacy practices.
  • Develop an effective and progressive program to guide a patient through the transitions of the health care process from the point of entry into the health care system until the point of exit (i.e. rehabilitation, home care, etc.)
  • Effectively interview and communicate with patients and their families so that they understand their options.
  • Apply pertinent knowledge of all payment-for-care resources.
  • Maintain impeccable records of all communications, treatment plans and resources.
  • Provide emotional, psychological, and physical support to health care consumers.
  • Maintain a current directory of supporting community-based and health-related services available to health care consumers and their families.

What is the future of health care consumer advocacy?

There is now a national committee looking to create a certification for health care advocates. This will ensure continued relevancy of the content and context of this degree.

Curriculum guide

The curriculum guide below lists the courses required for the degree. For a description of each course, see the University's Academic Catalog.

Health Care Consumer Advocacy Curriculum Guide

More information

For more information, please contact the School for Adult Learning at 317-788-2394 or by email at