Fashionistas! What Hats Does an Advocate Wear?

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I played golf the other day with a group of women I didn’t know well. I came away from the round being less pleased with my golf game (I really can’t putt!), but much pleased with the conversation and its application for our health and patient advocacy profession. In fact, I was so pleased with it, I went home and recorded notes so I could remember the conversation to share with you.

The ladies I played with were very curious about advocates. They all had healthcare horror stories to share. One had recently been through some bad medical experiences with her husband. One by one throughout the morning, she told me about some healthcare system transgression he (they) had suffered. For each one, I described to her some ways an independent advocate might have helped (with the emphasis on “independent” for all the obvious reasons.)

Ultimately the conversation produced a list of “hats” – the many kinds of help and support an advocate can provide. It wasn’t a list of services, such as the list we’ve included on the AdvoConnection Directory site. Instead it was more about benefits and support.

So I share this list with you today and invite you to add to it below. Each hat completes the sentence: An (independent) advocate is a _________________.

Of course, not all advocates wear all these hats, but all advocates wear at least some of them.

So, advocate fashionistas… What hats can you add to the list?

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Top 10 “Best Of” APHA Posts: 2017 in Review

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As 2017 comes to a close, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the blog posts you, my readers, considered to be most worth your reading time. Using post analytics, I’m able to see how many of you have read each of the 44 posts from 2017. Then, accommodating for the fact that some posts have been online for 11+ months, while others were just posted recently, it’s easy to tell which ones captured your imagination (or google’s search interest) to make the assessment.

So here are the top 10 posts (well – OK – I did have trouble counting again), in chronological order, the oldest to the newest:

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What Matt Lauer Can Teach Us About Private, Independent Advocacy

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The shocking news last week (although not-so-shocking to some) that Matt Lauer had been kicked to the curb by NBC came in tandem with an email conversation with a newly minted health advocate who wanted to be listed in the AdvoConnection Directory, but who has a little (not so little) problem with her website and marketing materials.

It struck me that Lauer’s behavior, as he faced accusations, even though the circumstances are NOT at all the same, provides a lesson to share with you.

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An Advocate’s Guide to CYA

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One of the simplest best practices for patient advocates is also the one with the fuzziest line. Sometimes it can be difficult to know at what point that fuzzy line will be crossed, and since crossing it can lead to problems for a client, put a private advocate out of business, or even result in a lawsuit against the advocate, we need clearer definition to be sure we C our own As (that is, CYA = Cover Your A**.)

Let me explain.

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They’re Not Us. We’re Not Them. The Difference Is Defined by Consequences.

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Those of us who stay on top of patient advocacy-related news got a jolt from this headline, “Patient Advocacy Groups Rake In Donations From Pharma.” Just the jolt itself suggests that a few clarifications need to be made about our work as independent, private patient advocates.

This is a topic I have written about several times in the past, but because it has big ripple effects, and because some of the people you connect with may be confused, you’ll need to clarify for them, so it bears repeating.

It’s about allegiance. And it’s classified in the same sphere of conversations and objections as these:

But the hospital has a patient advocate and I can talk to her for free. So why should I pay you?

I got a flyer in the mail from my insurance company and they offered a patient advocate to help me for free! So why should I pay you?

Anyone who has begun marketing a private advocacy practice has heard these sorts of objections. Like all roadblocks found in the healthcare system, I’m going to suggest you walk through the right answers with them, because it applies in all cases.

This is the way to overcome their objections.

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