Hidden Agendas and Being Used

Posted by:

puppetYears ago, in my salad days, I took a new marketing job after being interviewed by a gentleman who seemed as nice as anyone I had ever met in a workplace. It didn’t take me long to learn my new boss’s friendly smile, and the words that came out of his mouth, only masked a hidden agenda that he hoped naive-me would help him fulfill.

The first clue that things were not as they seemed came when I was asked to sign off on some media invoices, in effect, giving Accounts Payable my approval to pay the agency that had submitted them. Even though media invoices didn’t fall within my purview, I reviewed them with the intent of signing them… after all, my boss had asked me to sign them. I just needed to know what I was signing. It didn’t take me long to realize the numbers didn’t add up. A couple of phone calls, and a little due diligence uncovered the distinct probability that the agency that submitted the media invoices was paying my boss under the table. Of course, if HE signed those approvals, there would be evidence against him – that’s why he had told ME to sign them.

I was so upset at the revelation that it made me sick – literally sick to my stomach. After a lot of fretting and soul searching, I took the invoices back to my boss, and made some feeble excuse about why I could not sign them. He grabbed them out of my hand, very upset with me. “I didn’t tell you to review them! I only told you to sign them!” he exclaimed. It wasn’t the only time he wasn’t happy with me, but wouldn’t or couldn’t provide a plausible explanation.

It was the first time in my life that I realized that someone else was trying to “use” me for his own hidden agenda. I’m sure there had been times someone had used me before – but naive-me wasn’t aware of it then. Over the next few years this scenario was repeated a handful of times – never anything I could prove, but always just disturbing enough.

Eventually I changed jobs, then later started my own business knowing that my own agenda is the only one I ever care to dance to.

I was reminded of that experience recently when I was contacted by a patient who knows of my work through About.com (now called VeryWell.com), but didn’t realize I also work with APHA. She sent me a half dozen emails in one day. She left three messages on my toll free phone number (which, by the way, is reserved for advocates and media and expressly states that patients should not leave messages because I will not help them by phone. She was clearly desperate for help.)

I returned her email, sent her a few links appropriate to the questions she had asked, and suggested she connect with a patient advocate through the AdvoConnection Directory.

She not only replied to my email, but phoned me twice more. She told me “there’s nothing in those links that helps me! I need YOU to talk to me! Someone with YOUR STATUS is the only way I can get what I need!”

I replied once again by email, suggesting again that she needed an advocate to help her sort out the issues, in order to get the help she needs.

Her reply was, “I tried talking to a patient advocate, but,” (and these are the telltale words….) “She wouldn’t do what I told her to do!”

Continue Reading →


Contractors, Kick Backs and Clarity – That’s Why We’re Here for Advocates

Posted by:

(updated January 2017)

We’ve seen fireworks in the APHA Forum before.  And we’ve dealt with them. The beautiful thing about the Forum is that allows free conversations on every topic imaginable. But of course, as with any group of highly intelligent, motivated and capable people, we’re not always going to agree.  We experienced that again this week.

One of our very active and valued members had visited her attorney to work on her contracts. She raised the idea of working with independent contractors, and her attorney immediately advised her against it.  As she reported in the Forum, “He advised me to steer clear due to federal anti-kickback statutes. This is in part because I’m a licensed clinician (NP). But it seems anyone else who is contemplating the use of subcontractors should probably vet it with her or his attorney, especially if you plan on taking a cut.”

Here’s the GOOD and USEFUL part of her report – that she suggests others should discuss and vet the use of subcontractors with their attorneys.  Amen. So right. Great advice.

The problem with her post, however, is that it does not apply to 99.9% of APHA’s members who are working with subcontractors. There are two reasons for that, on which I elaborated in my reply in the Forum. The problem, of course, is that information that doesn’t apply might keep someone from trying a successful approach to business.  Others chimed in with their thoughts on the subject. It became somewhat contentious. And it most definitely required clarification.

Here’s what we can learn from this sort of exchange:

Continue Reading →


We Interrupt This Thread for News About a Potential Patient Advocacy Lawsuit

Posted by:

Law gavel on a stack of American money.Last week I shared with you the problems I had with my coffee pot which burned and melted its insides – and then, while shopping for a new one, it reminded me of a lesson in making sure we advocates take care of the little things.

My point was that we get hired for the big, important things that our clients need, but that our relationship with them, and our further ability to market our practices, is often dependent on the little things we take care of during the relationship. If we drop the ball on the little things, then they can have a huge negative impact for us going forward.  Mismanaging our clients’ expectations can spell the end for a practice.

This week I was going to tell you about a way you can get the feedback you need from your clients to be sure you’re meeting / exceeding their expectations…. (and don’t worry – I won’t forget – we’ll catch up to that soon)….

And then, an email exchange this week with a woman who I’ll call Lena, who hired a private, independent patient advocate with whom she is very upset. Even if the story she describes in her email is only half-true, I can see why she would be upset. And – holy cow! – how it proves the point from the “little things” post!

Lena’s first email was one simple question:

Would you know if there is anyone I could contact about a private  advocate who mishandled my case?

Continue Reading →


Doing What You Love Right Into a Hole

Posted by:

businessmodelEach week I’m contacted by a handful of people who have just begun thinking about becoming professional patient or health advocates. Often they share long stories – many paragraphs or several minutes long… describing years of advocacy for a loved one, or a resumé full of nursing experience, as if they need to convince me that they would make a good advocate or they run the risk of not hearing back from me.

These long, heartfelt messages are about the intersection of passion for advocacy – and the wish to use that passion to make a living. Advocacy fits them. They love it!  They’ve been doing it for a long time. They have enjoyed their journey as advocates so far, have usually been frustrated in some way by a system that wants to thwart good outcomes for patients, they see how it can improve, and now they want to be advocates in this very different, independent way – and be paid for doing it.

But I worry about most of them.

Continue Reading →


Confessions of a Failure

Posted by:

Think of the business people you know to be highly successful. They may represent different kinds of businesses, even non-profits. They probably represent different sizes of businesses – from a one person solopreneurship to multi-national conglomerates. They likely do entirely different things from manufacturing and selling products to offering personal services – and everything in between.

What is the first thing most of them have in common?

Most of them, at one time or another, have failed. Some of their failures are highly visible – and legend (think Donald Trump running for political office.)  Some of their failures are never to be spoken of (meaning we have no idea what they are.) In some cases they lost millions of dollars or years of time.

What is the second thing those who failed have in common?

Continue Reading →

Page 7 of 8 «...45678