Greetings in this new year 2016!
I invite you to sit back, and picture yourself in that audience above as I provide you with a status report of sorts on the growth of the profession of patient advocacy as seen through the “eyes” of the AdvoConnection Directory, plus statistics from The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates, and how APHA plans to double down on support for the profession of health and patient advocacy during this coming year.
The state of patient advocacy is: growing – but not fast enough! Just take a look at these statistics from the past three years. They reflect visitors to the AdvoConnection Directory – people looking for a patient advocate to help them. They are totals for visits to the entire site. We’ve come a long way since our first full directory year of 2010!
- People Looking for a Professional Patient Advocate
(patients and caregivers)
Of course, these numbers reflect the NEED for advocates. And that measures only the people who know patient advocates exist and then go looking for one to help.
The flip side is, of course, how many advocates there are available to fill those needs. And while those numbers are also growing quickly, they are not growing quickly enough.
Here are a few statistics about the number of advocates available, measuring by the numbers of advocates who belong to The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates, and those who populate the directory:
- Members of The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates
|as of December 31||Total APHA
So what does this tell us about the status of professional advocacy? Let’s do a little math:
Bottom line? We need MORE advocates! We need YOU!
(Next week I’ll be writing more about this problem of not enough advocates, so stay tuned, and signup at right to be notified if you want a reminder when it is published.)
There are additional challenges we must also recognize:
- Beyond the general dearth of patient advocates is the fact that there are NO advocates at all in too many locations in the US and Canada. We need to help build advocacy practices throughout both countries, and particularly in smaller cities and more rural areas.
- As of January 1, we still lack a nationally/internationally recognized certification. Even though the PACB has made some great strides in this past year, there is still more work to be done. (Learn more about the status of the work being done by the Patient Advocate Certification Board.)
- The role of private patient advocates, including the fact that they charge fees for their work, needs more broad understanding on the parts of patients and caregivers. (This too will be addressed in next week’s post.)
APHA’s Role, Promises and Goals for 2016
Those numbers create a great deal of gravity and sense of responsibility for us at the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates. We see it as our role to support those of you who are considering the profession as your next career, who are thinking through how you plan to move from that planning or thinking-about-it stage, to being one of the advocates being found by those who need you. We seek to grow the overall number of successful advocates, quickly.
So it is with that sense of responsibility that we share our plans to grow the numbers, hone the skills and improve the quality of services provided by the advocates available to help those patients who need them.
Yes – our focus is on YOU!
Here is what to expect this year from APHA:
- Our current membership (intranet) site is so 2009! When it was built it was state of the art. But we have grown the amount of content – good articles, access to resources – beyond what the 2009 site can easily handle anymore.
So, already in the works is our new, updated, totally searchable, much easier to navigate membership site – you know – the content you have access to once you log in. Using this new 2016 technology, the extensive content will be easier to navigate and find, including (finally! it took us years to find a solution!) – the ability to search it all to find what you want, quickly. We hope to launch the new site by the end of March.
- Also in the works, and soon to be available, we will be our new APHA Discussion Forum – APHA Members Connect! Yes, we are moving our Forum away from LinkedIn into our new networking site which will allow you to connect easily with each other. This will be online networking at its best: a private forum, a good solution for those of you who have been reluctant to be “found” on Linkedin (perhaps because you are still employed). It will allow you to pick and choose the type of Forum notifications you want to receive and edit the information you share with others. We expect to make this transition before the end of January.
- APHA Business and Marketing Workshops will be held this year in at least three locations: Orlando, Denver and Philadelphia. We are considering holding a fourth workshop in the Fall, possibly in Los Angeles, and will make that decision by July.
- You can also look for expansion of the support provided by APHA in the form of more affiliations such as expanding our liability insurer list, our connections with educational organizations and others.
In addition to these APHA updates, here’s what you can expect from me personally:
- Advocacy Skill Building Courses – all new and online! Expect to hear more by late spring-early summer (or later). These courses will be quick skill-building (pricing your services, handling client phone calls, working with providers, etc) and will compliment both the advocacy career and business books and the APHA Workshops, but not replace them.
- Two new books, both to be published by summer, intended to expand both business and marketing knowledge, but not as stand-alones. They will require solid background knowledge already provided in the existing Health Advocate Career books.
- Ongoing commitment to growing our marvelous, life extending and quality improving profession of private patient and health advocacy.
Many promises here! Most already in the works, all intended to address those huge needs identified above: increasing the numbers of advocates, helping you all hone your skills, improving the quality of services you provide, and making you all successful.
Supporting that success is win – win – win!
So what is YOUR role?
There are a number of ways you can help these efforts. Provide suggestions. Answer questions and surveys. Volunteer to be a beta tester when requests are made, continue to promote advocacy both as a profession, and as a service needed by patients, and generally – just be involved and enthusiastic.
As of 2016, health and patient advocacy is no longer a truly new profession. Those of us who have been pioneers are now being joined by those who can take advantage of our pioneerism, and who will learn from us. It is up to us to set fine examples for them; to show them the ropes we have crafted – the ropes of excellence.
We’ve come a long way, but we have much farther to go. Thank YOU for your efforts.
Now let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.