Many readers of this blog are familiar with, or are already listed in the AdvoConnection Directory. It’s THE place to be for private, professional, independent advocates who want to be found and hired by patients or caregivers who need them. It’s the largest, and the only “vetted” directory that exists for advocates.
We”re announcing today a big change to what it takes to be listed in the directory which will affect almost everyone who has given thought to being included in the directory – but isn’t yet listed. That may include you!
We’ll begin with a little history to help you understand the change.
A History of Independent Health / Patient Advocacy Directories
When AdvoConnection was first launched in 2009, it was the only directory of independent advocates in existence. And – that’s all it was – just a directory. There was no membership organization associated with it.
There were 30 advocates listed – and they were there because they SAID they could be advocates. Period. There was no vetting, no review, and (you’ll love this….) no cost!
Of course, in those days the circumstances were quite different. Very few people called themselves “patient advocates” or “health advocates.” Certainly no one would ever want to be in a directory if they weren’t really qualified to help patients, right?
Within months of our launch, it became apparent that such an approach couldn’t last for the long haul. We quickly figured out:
- That allowing just anyone to be listed in the directory didn’t serve patients well. Not everyone who wanted to be listed had the chops to do what needed to be done for patients. They would say, “I just want my name in there to see if people will call.” (This raised all kinds of ethics red flags!)
- That not everyone who was listed in the directory understood how to run a business. Some offered free services because they thought that would be a good way to launch a practice. (It’s not!) Too many of the listed advocates began to ask to be removed from the directory because – well – they just didn’t know what they were doing. They were running charities, not income-producing businesses, and that was impossible to sustain.
- HUGE confusion developed between nurses who called themselves advocates but were providing medical services – vs – non-medical advocates who could navigate, or review medical bills, but weren’t medical.
- Too many of the listed advocates didn’t understand how to handle the expectations of patients, setting themselves up to fail, and positioning themselves for a lawsuit.
- Not everyone who wanted to be included was, in our estimation, a good person to do so. From conflicts-of-interest to ethical problems – we started turning people away.
Big changes needed to be made! And so we changed. By late Spring 2010:
- We recreated AdvoConnection as a membership organization*, realizing that was the best format for supporting the business knowledge needs of advocates.
- We began to charge for membership. Beginners (PACE members) were charged very little. We charged more for Premium membership, those who needed extra support in the way of contracts, insurance, and marketing help, and who might be ready to be listed in the directory.
What was still needed was a way to separate those who were, seriously, “ready” for the directory – vs – those who were just willing to pay for the higher level membership. That was when we created our list of requirements to be listed. Those requirements were simple:
- have a good track record of helping patients
- have a website that focused on advocacy work, and
- have liability or errors & omissions insurance for advocacy work.
Why require liability insurance? There were two important reasons: first, because it’s just a very smart move for any professional to have some sort of liability insurance. We know how litigious people can be, and a patient or caregiver who thinks their privacy, or finances, or health have been violated will sue. Having insurance is just smart business.
But second – because obtaining insurance, and paying for it, was a way we could tell who was serious about helping patients. These sorts of insurance have a vetting process to help them determine whether someone can be insured, so AdvoConnection counted on that process to inform its directory acceptance decisions.
No longer. Today that changes.
Today we have published our new requirements list for being included in the AdvoConnection Directory. We hope you like what you see, and we hope the update will encourage you to list yourself.
The first two requirements remain exactly the same, with a slight nuance. You must still have a track record of helping people. And you must still have a website. (The nuance is that we will no longer allow a Facebook page, Linked In profile, or any other social media listing to replace the website.)
But, as of today, having the insurance is no longer a requirement.
Because the third requirement is that you submit one of these three “proofs” that you are a good directory candidate:
- Insurance, as the requirement has always been,
- OR… a background check, with specific requirements (which many clinical people or social workers already have)
- OR… you must hold current certification from any one from a specific list of certifying bodies.
More details for each may be found on our Directory Requirements page.
What precipitated the change? It’s quite simple: the work of the Patient Advocate Certification Board. As it created the eligibility requirements for becoming certified, the PACB explored background checks. We also reviewed other organizations’ certification requirements. Both were found to be strong indicators of someone’s ethics and ability to fulfill the role of a patient advocate. And that’s what it’s all about – benefiting patients.
Thus, the new options for becoming listed in the AdvoConnection Directory.
We have one further goal which really can’t be quantified. Becoming listed is an honor, and a privilege, and it must be earned. It’s an accomplishment, not just something to be paid for. We want our directory-listed APHA members to be proud that they have achieved a listing! We think this change enhances that possibility.
Are you ready to be listed? APHA Premium members may link to the application form.
A note here for those who are already listed: nothing changes for you. You’re listed, you’ll stay listed as long as you are still a member of APHA, and no other proofs are needed from you.
Questions? Ask away! I’m happy to answer.
I hope you are pleased with what you’ve read here today. And I hope if you aren’t already, that you’ll want to be listed in our directory which still, today, stands as the ONLY advocacy directory which requires you be ready, willing, and able to help the patients who need you.
*AdvoConnection as a membership organization changed its name in Fall 2012 to The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates (APHA).
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