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The Distinction that Can Make All the Difference

October 9, 2011 1 comment

Many of you, despite the fact that you are excellent advocates with outstanding patient advocacy skills, will not succeed as private advocates, because you don’t understand one important distinction.

Doesn’t really seem right, does it?

So what’s that distinction?  Well, it ties into the ongoing discussion about who does, or does not, have the capability to provide the skills patients need, and who will, or won’t, be able to do the work – that discussion about patients’ needs and fulfilling those needs.

Let’s look at it this way first:

Colleen has always loved houses, and has been the admin in a real estate company for almost 30 years. She has handled details upon details for others – from seller contracts to purchaser contracts, from arranging for home showings, to making phone calls to rustle up inspectors, to retrieving signs from a “sold” property’s front yard.  She knows her stuff, she’s done it all, she’s seen it all, and now she’s decided she wants to do real estate work on her own.  So Colleen quits her job, and goes into business for herself.

Colleen approaches her business very professionally, doing all the stuff she thinks she’s supposed to do.  She makes up business cards and some flyers.  She builds a website.  She lets everyone in her neighborhood and her church know that she’s got decades of real estate experience, and now she’s ready to help them list or buy a house. Yes, her phone rings on occasion, but… The business just doesn’t come in to support her well enough.  Eventually she takes a part time job so she can pay some of her bills.  But, of course, if she’s at work at her part time job, and people call her for help right away, she misses the opportunity.

Six months later, Colleen is forced to give up her dream of being in business for herself, doing what she loves and is passionate about.  She can’t support herself and the phone just doesn’t ring often enough.  But she just doesn’t understand it – Colleen can’t figure out why she can’t build a business.

What Colleen missed, the reason she can’t succeed, is the same reason many of you who read this will go out of business, too.  Until you recognize it and act on it, you are doomed to fail (unless, of course, you win the lottery and can be a patient advocate for free, with no worry about income….)

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Got Business? AdvoConnection One Day Business Institute – Reserve Your Spot Now

September 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Most members of AdvoConnection are aware of the upcoming Business Institute, but for those of you who aren’t members – you are invited, too!

The cost to attend goes up this week, so this is the time to make your commitment.

Topics will include legal, insurance, marketing, tools, money and certification.  Here are some of the questions we will answer:

• Do you have the right insurance at the best price?
• What forms do you need and what makes your contracts legally binding?
• What’s the latest on certification issues?
• How can you deal with business problems your client poses, like not paying his bill, or refusing to sign important paperwork?
• Does your website put your best foot forward?
• What’s the best approach to social media marketing?
• How can you best price your services?
• How should you approach clients about payment?
• What does the IRS expect from you?
• What are some inexpensive ways to reach the right potential clients?
• What other types of services might you be able to offer?
• Who else is out there to help you improve and grow your business?

We’ll have plenty of opportunities for networking, too – including speed dating! (sort of…..)

And – a very special surprise guest will provide our keynote speech.  Join us – because there won’t be a dry eye in the place.

We do hope you can join us!  Thursday, November 3 in Berkeley, CA.

Learn more – and register here:  www.AdvoConnectionConference.com 

(I look forward to meeting you!)

The Option of Saying “NO”

August 15, 2011 1 comment

Several months ago I wrote about the tendency of big-hearted advocates to over-extend themselves with volunteer work; that when someone needs their help, but doesn’t have the means to pay them, they don’t know how to say “no.” We looked at some of the ways to get past that inability in order to keep our businesses moving forward.

Truth is, that is only one of the circumstances where “no” is the right answer.  That’s true whether it is us, as professional advocacy business owners who must choose to say no, or whether we must help our clients choose “no” if it is possibly the right answer for them.

The business “no” is not unusual and will seem very simple once you understand it.

But the client “no” is often overlooked – and you truly owe it to your clients to not only understand it, but to help them understand, and sometimes embrace it, too.

Here’s a business “no” example:

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Insurance Reimbursements? Not Exactly a Pot of Gold

A recent post from a member advocate in our AdvoConnection Forum asked if any of our members have experience with working with self-funded insurance to offer patient advocacy services.  Wouldn’t that be a great way to establish a big client, with a pot of money that was ready to be paid to private patient advocates?

There were no replies to the question.  That doesn’t mean that no one has experience with these reimbursements. It just means that no one replied to the question.  BUT – the reasons no one replied may be a version of the following:

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Patient Advocacy and the Allegiance Factor

March 5, 2011 2 comments

As we prepare for Private Professional Patient Advocates Week next week, I’ve been asked by a handful of people what the difference is between a private patient advocate and any other health advocate.

It’s an important question, and the answer is actually quite simple.

The difference between a private patient advocate or navigator, and those found in hospitals, through insurance companies, or other places, is what I call The Advocate’s Allegiance Factor.  It’s based on who is producing the paycheck.

Private patient advocates are paid directly by the patient or the patient’s caregiver and have only one allegiance – to the patient.  The patient’s needs, whether they be medical, navigational, financial or locational – are the prime concern of the patient advocate. Period.

However…

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Can a True Patient Advocate Be Paid by Someone Else?

February 5, 2011 1 comment

Several questions have come my way recently about what kinds of job opportunities might exist for patient advocates.  I refer people to an article I’ve written elsewhere, but the real answer is – to be a true advocate, you must analyze who is paying for your services, and what your responsibility will be to them.

Finding an Employer

In 2011, most of the job possibilities for patient advocates are found either with hospitals or insurance companies.  Hospitals have, for a long time, employed patient advocates, sometimes called patient representatives, who are tasked with helping patients.  And word comes from an AdvoConnection member, through our Forum, that beginning in 2014 with healthcare reform, insurance companies will be required to have patient navigators on their staffs if they want to participate in insurance exchanges. Some have already begun to hire advocates.

But here’s the problem with those jobs.

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What’s the Difference Between a Patient Advocate and a Geriatric Care or Case Manager?

December 8, 2010 1 comment

One of our AdvoConnection members asked me about these differences a day or two ago…  So I thought I would share my reply with you.

She had called on a nursing home to see if they had interest in recommending her services to the families of some of its residents.  The nursing home director replied that they had a team of geriatric case managers they worked with – and asked what services she, the patient advocate, could provide that GCMs could not.

Since she really couldn’t come up with a useful answer, she asked me if I knew the differences in service offerings….

A few thoughts:

1.  The first, obvious answer is that a patient advocate is available to assist anyone of any age – not limited to someone who is elderly, or at least over a ‘certain age,’ as a geriatric case manager would be.

2.  Part of the answer depends on who’s paying the tab for the advocate’s or case manager’s services.  If the nursing home or the county or state’s social services department is paying the tab, then the GCM is the not the patient’s advocate – she is beholden to the nursing home or the taxpayers.  On the other hand, if the GCM’s services are paid for by the family or the patient, then they, too, are performing patient advocacy services.

3.  Our AC member advocate might have stumbled on a good marketing idea, however… but not the way she thought.  We can guess that geriatric case managers may not have the skills or the interest in providing some services patient advocates provide every day, such as hospital bedside monitoring, or doctor appointment accompaniment.  It could be that patients’ advocates and geriatric care managers are “coopetition.”  (Read more about coopetition in The Health Advocate’s Marketing Handbook.

4.  One way patient advocates and geriatric care managers are identical:  they are both included and invited to participate as members of AdvoConnection.  As independent practitioners who serve patients, we want to be sure families find the help they need for their loved ones.

Do you know of additional differences or similarities?  Please share them with us.

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