Read About AdvoConnection Patient Advocates in O Magazine!

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AdvoConnection’s advocates were thrilled to have been included in an article called Someone on Your Side (A new prescription for navigating the medical maze) in the August 2010 issue of O Magazine.

The article begins with a patient story.  Tracy Cloninger figured out what so many patients do — that the healthcare system just isn’t paying enough attention.  When her endocrinologist failed to schedule her radiation treatments for her thyroid cancer, Tracy hired Hari Khalsa, the Health Whisperer (patient advocate located in Massachusetts.)

Gail Gazelle, MD, from MD Can Help was quoted extensively in the article as well.  Gail pointed out the benefits of hiring an MD as your advocate.  We should point out here that not all aspects of patient advocacy assistance would require an MD.  When you interview an advocate, you can determine whether an MD is required.

If you want to learn more about your diagnosis, Ken Schueler of HKS Advocates, another AdvoConnection member advocate, provides a suggestion for a great resource – disease advocacy groups.

And Trisha Torrey, founder of AdvoConnection and author of You Bet Your Life! The 10 Mistakes Every Patient Makes (How to Fix Them to Get the Health Care You Deserve) was also quoted.  Her bottom line?  Make sure the advocate you hire has the credentials that will help you best.  MDs, nurses, nurse practitioners and others with medical training can be important for some advocacy needs.  But sometimes an insurance or claims specialist, or even just someone who can check in with you (or your loved one) to provide drug dose reminders is all that’s needed.

Read more about Hari Khalsa, the Health Whisperer at her website.

Read more about Gail Gazelle at MDCanHelp.

Read more about Ken Schueler at HKS Patient Advocates.

Many thanks to Leslie Goldman, author of the article.  She got patient advocacy right – a new career for some, and a lifesaver for others.

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Do you want to explore the possibility of hiring a patient advocate to help you with your healthcare?  Check out AdvoConnection to find one.

Are you an advocate?  Or are you thinking about a career as an advocate?  Learn more about AdvoConnection membership.

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What Does a Patient Advocate Do?

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That’s a good question — what does a patient advocate do?  And there are a handful of answers, depending on the kind of help you need.

Some advocates help you with insurance claims, or review your hospital bills.  Others might sit with you at home while you convalesce, or help you understand a difficult diagosis and an extended list of treatment options.  In fact, there’s a long list of services patients or health advocates might provide.

Most of these are simple to understand, because this kind of help has actually been around for awhile.  The type of patient advocacy that seems most confusing – but can have the biggest impact on your positive medical outcomes – are medical / navigational advocates.

These advocates will sit with you in the doctor’s office and ask questions, or will help you make a difficult medical decision, or will sit at your bedside to monitor your hospital care, to be sure you get the right drugs, or don’t acquire an infection.

Here’s a metaphor to help you better understand why this is important:  Fifty years ago, if you wanted to buy a house, you found someone willing to sell, and the two of you worked out all the details.  If you needed a mortgage, you got it.  If you needed a lawyer to draw up the deed, then you hired one.

But over the years, particularly as credit problems started to arise and the legal requirements got tougher, we began to see real estate brokers establish an expertise as the go-between – between the seller and the buyer.  These brokers have a much larger bank of knowledge than someone who only buys or sells a home two or three times in a lifetime. They understand the process, know home values, mortgage options, negotiation – they know far more about everything related to the transaction of buying or selling a home than most of us do.  Today, very few home transactions take place without a real estate broker to orchestrate them.

Unfortunately, the healthcare system (no matter what country you live in) has become so tenuous that patients really do need a go-between to help them navigate.  Doctors can’t do it alone anymore, nor can nurses.  Without that expert to step in and shepherd us, we patients may succumb not to our disease or condition, but to the problems in the system that is intended to help us.

There is excellent care available!  But it takes these experts — these professional private patient advocates — to find it and make sure we patients access it.

Whether you need help navigating the maze of healthcare — or help with your medical bills, insurance claims, home health, eldercare, a midwife or doula – or even legal help – you can find it at AdvoConnection.

Update:  January 2015

Are you considering becoming a patient advocate?  You might be interested in this recently published book:
So You Want to Be a Patient Advocate?  Choosing a Career in Health or Patient Advocacy

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AdvoConnection Blog Launch

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As Every Patient’s Advocate, the most frequent request I hear is to try to make a connection between a patient, or the loved one of a patient, and someone who can help navigate medical care on behalf of that patient.

Here is a list of the kinds of services they request:

  • Preparation for the doctor’s appointment
  • Accompaniment to doctor’s appointments, tests and procedures
  • Medical research to learn more about diagnoses and treatment options
  • Translating medical language (medspeak)
  • Navigating HIPAA laws and privacy matters
  • Insurance choices, filings, negotiations
  • Elder care / geriatric care
  • Home health services
  • Organization / administration / paperwork
  • This blog will discuss the status and options of patient and health advocacy.

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