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Happy Birthday AdvoConnection! Will You Help Us Celebrate?

September 1, 2011 1 comment

Two years ago today, we launched AdvoConnection as the premier directory for patients and caregivers to find a health or patient advocate or navigator, and to support the business starting and growing efforts of advocates.

Happy Birthday to Us!

You might be interested in what this journey has looked like so far:

■  More than 270 people are advocate or pre-advocate members of AdvoConnection.  Most are in the process of exploring advocacy as a career.

■  12 non-profit patient advocacy organizations are registered with AdvoConnection.

■  More than 2,100 people visit the directory site each month in search of an advocate or navigator to help them

■  We have sent out 89 Monday Member Mails to advocate members. (We don’t send them on holidays.)

■  Our advisors (legal, insurance, patient safety, insurance claims, marketing and medical) have answered at least 34 questions from advocate members.

■  We have had to turn away 27 applications for Premium or Basic memberships because we felt they were not ready to appear in the directory (not enough of a track record.)  Most of them have instead joined as PACE members.

■  We’ve held 13 teleconference call-ins on topics ranging from marketing and money to patient safety and insurance claims.  All but one is now podcast on the member site.  (uh-huh, I forgot to turn on the RECORD for one of them.)

■  We’ve helped individual advocates and AdvoConnection itself appear in media galore – from O Magazine to CNN to local newspapers and TV news.

■  We’ll hold our first conference, the AdvoConnection Business Institute, in November.

■  However! We have no idea how many successes there have been – patients or caregivers who found one of our directory-listed advocates and became clients.  We have no way to track them because email and phone calls go directly to the advocate who is listed in the directory.

 And that’s where you come in! Please tell your story below:  If you are an AdvoConnection member*, tell us about a patient or caregiver (or even another advocate) you connected with through your affiliation with AdvoConnection.  Please don’t use names (privacy) – but tell us how the relationship worked out, what benefit there was to your patient, or to you….

(And hey – make sure you link to your website, because this is a great way to help promote your own advocacy business!)

It’s a great way to help us celebrate our second birthday!

*AdvoConnection members only, thank you.

A Patient Advocate Is Just Like….

August 21, 2011 Leave a comment

In a conversation with a group of friends, Lisa told us she has decided to buy her first house. She feels like the market is right – prices are low, interest rates are low – so why not take the plunge?

We responded by providing advice to her based on our own experiences with buying homes. “Be sure to get it inspected.” “Shop around for mortgage rates.” “Sign a contract with a buyer’s agent, otherwise your interests won’t really be represented.” “Beware of shortsales and bank repos because I’ve heard really bad things about those on the news.” … and more …

Read more…

YOMs – and That Sense of Entitlement

July 31, 2011 3 comments

It arrived in my email a few days ago – a demand for a reply.

It came from a person who reads my articles at About.com.  She had sent me a question the day before regarding  trouble she was having getting copies of her records from her doctor. I had not yet responded to that email.

The second one arrived, shouting in capital letters:  WHY DIDN’T YOU ANSWER MY QUESTION?  I SENT IT YESTERDAY AND YOU HAVEN’T ANSWERED IT YET!

…………………………………..

Read the rest of this post at:

http://advoconnectionblog.com/2011/07/31/yoms-and-that-sense-of-entitlement/

Using Advocacy Specialties to Create Niches

When I glance at the many topics our AdvoConnection members post about in the Forum, I find certain people posting on certain kinds of topics.  That leads me to believe that they have special interests – or expertise – in those topics….

Which leads me to thinking that the patients and caregivers who are hiring them have interest in those topics, too.

So why not use them in marketing?

For example:

  • One such topic has developed around interest in integrative approaches to care.  At least one of the health advocacy educational programs was developed to focus strictly on integrative care.  A handful of our member advocates have taken coursework, or have otherwise developed special interests in integrative care – and I know from questions that come to me from patients that they are interested in integrative care, too. Read more…

Patient Advocates and HIPAA

June 27, 2011 2 comments

Lately I’ve run into questions and discussions about patient advocates or navigators and HIPAA , so it seems a good topic for today’s post.

I’ll begin with a disclaimer:  there’s no one on this green planet that can give you ALL the answers as they relate to HIPAA!  No, not even the lawyers who live it every day.  It’s complex and daunting.  But there are some basics that might be useful.  I’ve learned about them in my work and writing for patients.

Here are the basics that can be useful to advocates:

1.  It’s HIPAA, not HIPPA.  HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act.  Notice, it doesn’t say anything about information (which is what it’s really about), nor does it say anything about patients.

2.  HIPAA was originally  intended to protect patient information from falling into the “wrong” hands electronically.  The laws were passed in the 1990s as fax machines were being used more and more and the Internet was beginning to be used to share personal information. HIPAA was intended to address any sort of electronic sharing of records.

Read more…

Craving Inside Information – from the Outside

May 16, 2011 1 comment

I mentioned last week that a dear friend has been diagnosed with a terminal disease.  I’ve known this for several weeks now, yet it still catches in my throat many times a day.  My work in patient empowerment and advocacy provides chafing reminders way too often that my friend is sick and that there is nothing – not.a.thing – I can do to help him.

Exacerbating my heartbreak is the fact that I am hundreds of miles away from where he lives, and I am a friend that doesn’t know his family.  That means that getting information is very difficult to do.

He was hospitalized about 10 days ago.  I do know that his family has rallied around him and I have been able to keep up… which is why I’m sharing this information with you.

His sister and daughter have been marvelous about posting almost daily to CaringBridge – a website that allows patients, families and friends to keep up with each other.  I’m able to go there are read about his progress.  I can add comments or send him messages.  It’s an opportunity for an exchange of information that if it didn’t exist, would leave friends like me entirely in the dark.

Caring Bridge is just one website that makes it easy for this type of information exchange about and for patients.  Care Pages is another one.  I actually wrote some Do’s and Don’t’s for using patient websites about 1-1/2 years ago (everything from understanding that they aren’t HIPAA compliant to being sure to wash your hands afterward if you are the person posting about the patient from a public, hospital computer.)

But until this experience, I didn’t understand just how important this ability was. I now understand the frustration of being on the outside, craving inside information.  “Important” isn’t even a strong enough word.  Vital, maybe.

So why am I sharing all this with you?

Read more…