If you have ever had a medical condition that necessitated hospitalization, you might have been lucky enough to have a good friend or family member be by your side as your advocate, speaking up for the information and attention you need. In hospitals, where everyone seems to have something urgent to attend to, and where that something can go from benign to fatal in a matter of moments, it's simply a fact that squeaky wheels get the grease. But when you are on the gurney yourself, it's not that easy to do the squeaking. That's where private patient advocates are stepping in. These paid professionals are personal medical assistants of a sort, working outside of the healthcare system but usually with a background in the field. They ensure that questions are answered, and that their charges get the right attention at the right time. And while a personal advocate can be expensive, changes under the Affordable Care Act that will cover all or part of their cost may turn patient advocacy into a profession that makes it a standard part of the American healthcare experience.