What are the differences and similarities between consumer advocates and individual consumers?

Organizations need both to be successful.

 
Alliances need the different qualities of individual consumers and consumer advocates to improve health care quality in their communities. 
 
Individual Consumers
 
A consumer is an individual who has personal experience with the health care system, either as a patient or caregiver. 
 
Alliances seek individuals who have unique health care experiences to inform and enrich their initiatives. They also aim to influence the attitudes and actions of individuals to help them become savvier consumers of health care and better stewards of their own health. 
 
Consumer Representatives
 
Consumer representatives, or advocates, are individuals who work at nonprofit, mission-oriented organizations that represent a group of consumers or patients. 
 
They focus on the needs and interests of groups of consumers and patients, and they typically do not have a financial stake in the health care system. Because the public trusts them as an impartial source of information, their participation in Alliance initiatives is particularly valuable. 
 
Unlike individual consumers, consumer representatives:
 
Have a global perspective representing the diverse needs and wants of entire groups of consumers and patients;
Use networks to empower and mobilize a community through email lists, websites, meetings, newsletters, conferences, etc.; and
Often have relationships with the media, policy makers, and elected officials they can leverage.