Dateline: September 1, 2009
The AdvoConnection membership organization was launched on this date in an effort to find people who could help patients navigate their medical journeys.
Happy Birthday to Us! (Yes – “us” – because the AdvoConnection Membership Organization was the original name of Alliance of Professional Health Advocates!)
My how times have changed! (And yet, they haven’t changed much at all… )
The original site was only intended to be a directory – sort of Match.com for patients and advocates – and 30 people stepped forward to be included. (We had been collecting email addresses of interested parties since early 2007.) Many are still members of the organization today – charter members! – meaning they have been successfully providing services to patients for at least five years. (I hope that gives some of you newer folks some hope 🙂 )
My how healthcare times have changed too! (And yet, they haven’t changed much at all… ) I remember that when we launched, some pundits thought we would be no more than a short-term solution… After all, healthcare reform was approved just a few months later. That was going to fix the system!
But of course, it not only didn’t fix the system, but if anything, it only makes what our members do even more important than ever before.
Original AdvoConnection memberships were free. We didn’t begin charging membership dues until summer 2010 when we actually felt as if we provided some value to members.
Early on, the only vetting we did for appearance in the AdvoConnection Directory was that someone would tell us they were helping patients, whether or not they were actually in business to do so. Within the next few months, though, realizing that vulnerable patients would need to know the person who would help them had real experience and credentials to help them, we began to review applications… That’s when we realized that the great majority of people who wanted to be in the directory had plenty of advocacy skills, but really needed business skills, too. We couldn’t be sure they would last for the long haul the way patients needed them to….
So we added a new form of membership – for beginners and “wannabes” – PACE memberships were born (Patient Advocate Career Exploration) – and they have truly fueled the growth of the profession. We knew we could support their abilities to develop a practice – a real business – to enable them to provide advocacy services and be paid (make a living.)
From there we continued to add membership benefits to support the start-up and growth of practices across the US and Canada. We enlisted advisors for legal, insurance and other support, got the Discussion Forum going, started to host Expert Call-ins, added articles and tools to the membership site and more… it’s continuous improvement even today.
By 2012, we knew that there was some confusion over just what AdvoConnection was – to some it was a directory and to others it was a membership organization. In fact, we had evolved to something that wasn’t intended at the beginning! And so, the new name, the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates was implemented in October 2012 to allay that confusion. AdvoConnection remains the name of the directory, serving thousands of patients and caregivers each month.
And we continue to grow…
Today the Alliance offers 5 different memberships: PACE, PACE International, PREMIUM, Directory Only, and Business Memberships. We have a number of affiliate organizations we partner with, too.
We boast 557 members, of whom 154 populate the AdvoConnection Directory. The great majority of members live and work in the United States, but we are truly international with Canadian members, and members from Australia, Spain, Russia, and South Africa, too.
Directory visits average almost 4,000 unique visitors and 12,800 pageviews per month, by people in search of the help they need.
What we are proudest of – the very reason the organization was founded to begin with – is that every day our members are being found in the AdvoConnection Directory by the people who need their help – a range of services that is far larger, and for many even more effective than ever before. And every day, quality of life is improved, and lives and money are being saved, because our members are serving patients and caregivers with an incredible range of skills and services.
If we’ve come this far in five years, where will we be in 10?
Happy Birthday dear AdvoConnection…. Happy Birthday to Us! (and many moooore…!)
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