Hey Little Girls: Yes, Women Can Be Brilliant!

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(To my gentleman readers – please pardon this week’s post. You are more than welcome to read it, of course, and there will be advantages to doing so, but it’s really aimed at the females among us. That will make sense momentarily.)

This week’s post comes as a result of three experiences from the past few weeks, all reminders of the necessity of tooting one’s own horn.

We’ll set the stage with one of those experiences; that is, publication this week by the AP of this article

Little girls doubt that women can be brilliant, study shows

Now, I’m a firm believer that headlines are really only intended to suck us readers in – so I didn’t just take the headline at face value. 

I read the full article… Unfortunately, and frustratingly, the headline is a very accurate representation of the research results.  And I am appalled. 

So much so, that it made me double down on the meat of this post – to be revealed in a moment – and the reason why this matters to us as patient advocates (no matter whether we are male or female.)

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Misleading Headline Provides an Opportunity

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This week the Chicago Tribune featured patient advocacy as a growing trend – a marvelous exposure to private advocacy for the uninitiated (uninitiated = most of the known universe).  Several of our APHA members were mentioned in the article and for the most part, it was an excellent representation of the status of private advocacy.

Except for the headline:

tribheadline

Now, most of us are intelligent enough to know that headlines are created to suck in readers, and too often, intentionally focus on some point that doesn’t really represent the story – just draws those readers.  And so it was with this headline, too.

It’s unfortunate, because too many of us are guilty of seeing a headline and drawing conclusions, without ever really reading the story. There may be millions of Chicago Tribune readers who saw only the headline and didn’t read the story, and therefore won’t consider contacting a private patient advocate because – as per the headline – they think it will be too expensive to pay for that help. 

Sad, but true.

But that headline did one thing very well. That is, it gave us a good opportunity to explore the concept of “costly” – and turn this negative into a positive. 

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Celebrating the 5th Annual Private Professional Patient Advocates Week

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pppawheaderOur Fifth Annual Private Professional Patient Advocates Week – is this week – March 16 to 22 -and I’m here to share tales of the growth of our profession.

Can it be that patient advocacy as a profession is now so “old” ?  Granted, there were a handful of advocates practicing long before we began to quantify and qualify the profession.  The year 2009, with the launch of NAHAC and APHA / AdvoConnection, marked the beginning of the growth that would make us a recognized profession across North America.

Some background:

From the 30-ish people who joined AdvoConnection in 2009 – for free! – with a belief that this might be an interesting alliance full of possibilities… to the almost 550 members of APHA today, and dozens more who aren’t yet on our current radar…  yes, growing.

So, as I did last year, I thought I’d share a profile of our membership and achievements:

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And They Called it Puppy L-o-o-ve

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firstlove< ….cue Paul Anka or Donny Osmond…. >

….  Remember when you were a teenager in puppy love?  Oh! You couldn’t stand to be away from the new person in your life!  You knew you would love each other forever – but the rest of the world that was getting in the way of that love. THEY thought you were too young, but you knew better! ….

And they called it puppy love
Oh I guess they’ll never know
How a young heart really feels
And why I love her so

It was the highest of highs, finding love for the first time!  Like no other, you couldn’t imagine feeling any better than you felt at that point in your life.

Hormone-driven passion… the dopamine, serotonin, estrogen and testosterone… Giddy with new-found love, you took chances and made stupid decisions….

And, as happens with any risk… sometimes you got caught in compromising positions – sneaking out, passing notes in class, or even the ultimate in getting caught when you thought no one else would be home….

At the extreme you might have even paid an “ultimate” type of price. Your reputation, a teen pregnancy, a total rethinking and reshaping of your future….

Of course, what we all know about puppy love is that it doesn’t last. The reality of puppy love is that you eventually have to deal with the real world (like parents and money!) no matter how distasteful that might seem and no matter how much it appears, at the time, to shatter your dreams. Few puppy love relationships last longer than a blip on the radar of a lifetime. Yet, we learn so much from the experience.

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Monetizing, Scaling – Making Smart Choices Affects Your Advocacy Practice and Income

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businessgrowth

An email this week comes from one of our APHA members, who I will call Bernice, who reminds me of how easy it is to lose sight of what is important to us when it comes to building our advocacy practices.

Bernice is in the process of entering a business plan competition which, if she wins, will provide her with a $10,000 grant to help her grow her practice.

Her concern is, that in order to win the money, she is going to have to write a business plan that’s about “going big.”  From her email to me:

“We have retired execs who are mentors, and they
just don’t see how I’m going to go “big” with this business.”

So she wanted to know if I have suggestions for how to build that in.

“So, as I push forward to make this a “winning” business plan entry, what do you see as the most viable way to monetize our businesses to take it up several notches?”

A few important points for all of us to consider:

Bernice is asking about two aspects of growing a business:  monetizing and scaling. Monetizing simply means finding more ways to maximize the income from the work she is doing. Scaling refers to the growth of a business – more products or services, more employees, more customers and of course, bigger income to support all of that (and hopefully more profitability too.)

To which I say… whoa!  Wait a minute!  Who says any of that is important?

Now, at first I expect you’re reading those words and laughing. Of course they are important! (you’re thinking.)  Who doesn’t want their business to make more money and to grow bigger?

To which I will respond…  Making more money? Of course.  But growing bigger?  Maybe you DO and maybe you DON’T.

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Ripped from the Headlines…. a Warning for Health Advocates, Too

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commonsenseA kidnapping and murder last weekend raises questions for all professionals who work one-on-one with strangers….

If it can happen to a real estate agent, it can happen to a health advocate, too.

I’m referring to the headlines about Beverly Carter in Little Rock, Arkansas.  She was a real estate agent who had gotten a call from a stranger to show a home she had listed for sale.  And then she disappeared.  Her body was found several days later in a shallow grave.

See that second sentence?  “She was a real estate agent who had gotten a call from a stranger to show a home she had listed for sale.”  It could just as easily have said, “She was a patient advocate who had gotten a call from a stranger to discuss the problems he was having with his medical care (or medical bills.)

Like real estate agents, the nature of the work we do is to help strangers.  In fact, if we don’t help strangers, then we won’t stay in business for long – it’s not a choice, it’s a necessity.

Common sense should tell us never to just show up at a stranger’s home – and yet, I have no doubt that many of you reading this post have done just that.

And as you read this post, you are thinking, “well, sure, but….. “

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You’re Not Charging Enough, and It’s Hurting Our Entire Profession

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cycloneproject

  • What is it worth to find someone who can save your life?
  • What is it worth to find someone who can provide quality to a life that has little or no quality because of health problems?
  • What is it worth to find someone who can save you tens of thousands of dollars, or to prevent you from going bankrupt?
  • What is it worth to find someone who can alleviate your fear, and provide peace of mind?

……………..

I can tell you what it’s worth based on what I read in the press, in the APHA Forum, in my email and based on feedback from many of you:

On the high end, it’s worth about $350 an hour.

But on the low end, every day, many of you behave as if it’s worth is $0. Nothing. Zero. Nada. Zip. 

And in most cases, you don’t realize that is what you are doing.

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The One Thing That Will Cause Your Private Advocacy Practice to Fail

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moneytree
Here are samples of some inquiries I have received from people wanting to be advocates. See if you can guess what they all have in common:

I want to help Medicaid patients find doctors who will take their insurance.

We plan to help children with mental health issues find the help they need.

I want to help young girls who find themselves pregnant find the social services they need to get them through their pregnancies.

I want to work with churches and senior centers to help their members and attendees understand their medical care.

I want to help lymphoma patients with shared decision-making about their treatment.

I want to help children in _____ County who have neurological disorders. (The county named is in a poor, rural part of a southern state.)

One thing they have in common is that everyone of them has a noble and worthwhile mission. They have developed missions that come from each inquirer’s heart.  There is no doubt there will be people who need them and who they can help.

But that one thing they have in common is also the one thing that will cause them to fail in private practice, too.

How so?

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