An Advocate’s Allegiance Makes All the Difference

Posted by:

allegianceJust in the past week alone, I’ve been asked three times why someone would hire a private patient advocate when there are so many other forms of help available.

What other forms would those be?  A variety:

  • hospital patients can call on the hospital’s patient advocate for help
  • cancer patients find navigators to help them through treatment
  • insurance customers can call their customer service rep, or even an insurance company patient advocate
  • a newly diagnosed patient can often find that large disease advocacy organizations, like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or the American Diabetes Association, will provide an advocate to help them sort out questions they may have

Yes – those are all resources patients have when they need assistance.  And to some extent, patients may find the answers they seek with any of them.

But there is something each one is lacking, and that one thing can mean the difference between life and death, the difference between quality of life or lack thereof, or the difference between solvency and bankruptcy.

Continue Reading →

4

If I Could File a Lawsuit, I Would

Posted by:

blindfoldI’m really angry at the investment firm Morgan Stanley – really angry.  I have had to deal with them since my father died, trying to manage and move a small IRA my sisters and I inherited, and they have done their utmost to make that impossible.

I’ve told the story at my About.com blog because the bottom line is – if there was such a thing as a financial services advocate, I would hire him or her.  That’s a great lesson for patients, with similar concepts applied to their medical care, and will hopefully make some of your phones ring, too.

But I’m so angry and frustrated by my experience with Morgan Stanley, that if there was such a thing as filing a lawsuit over their behavior, I would file one. Within this experience are some lessons for advocates, how we handle customer service, and how we keep ourselves from being sued.

You can read some of the story here. I’ve listed some of their transgressions, but not the worst ones. In that About.com post, I didn’t talk about the contracts they insisted I sign – “immediately or we’ll miss the deadline!” – in which they had already checked off boxes that made choices I would never make. Fine print, intended to trick me? Or the fact that I almost had to pay penalties because Dad had not taken a minimum distribution for 2012 – a fact pointed out to me in the 11th hour – a question I never would have known to ask.

I’m so angry, in fact, that I’m writing about them publicly and naming names. I’ve threatened to report them to the SEC. You don’t EVER want your clients to become so angry at you.

At the root of my anger is, that just like your clients and potential clients, I don’t know what I don’t know, and Morgan Stanley is treating me like a mushroom – keeping me in the dark and feeding me, well, animal waste.

Continue Reading →

2

Holiday Hospital Dangers Spell HERO for Patient Advocates

Posted by:

heroThere is no time like the present to keep your clients out of the hospital. Just raising the issue may make you a hero to them.

I realize how dramatic that sounds, but bear with me here.

Think about any workplace you’ve ever worked in during the holidays. Employees, even customers, are not nearly as focused on the work-at-hand as they are during non-holiday times. They may be taking sick days or personal days off (shopping and baking take precedence!), they may be leaving work early to see their kids in the Holiday Concert at school.  They may be laughing and joking about how someone behaved at the office party the night before, or maybe they are distracted by thoughts of the shopping that isn’t yet done, or the in-laws (who they never really get along with) who are arriving tomorrow.

And that’s the point. There are dozens of time and thought-consuming distractions during holiday times. Then, as the holiday date draws closer, the most senior staff members (if not everyone) begin checking out for days or weeks of vacation time. Important questions go on a shelf until those folks return to work. Less senior staff, or part-timers, are the ones left to make snap decisions when called for, no matter how dire those decisions are. They make them to the best of their ability, but there’s always a question about whether they are making the right decision.

Continue Reading →

1

A New Tool for Choosing Providers – and You Can Help

Posted by:

If you aren’t aware of the Society for Participatory Medicine, you should be.  The organization’s membership is comprised of people who work or seek healthcare who promote participation, collaboration, cooperation and empowerment of all parties involved in the practice of medicine. Yes – people like us. You may be more familiar with the group if I tell you that the “e-patient” movement started with the SPM.

Importantly – members include patients, caregivers and others who are not necessarily traditional participants – and yes, advocates.  It truly lives up to its name:  PARTICIPATORY.

We, as advocates, are too keenly aware that our clients often run into roadblocks from providers who don’t want them to participate, or ask questions, or include an outside person – an advocate – in their care.

That line of demarcation is very clear to us:

  • Doctors and other providers who welcome participation
  • Doctors and other providers who don’t

One of the initiatives the Society has been working on was just launched, and it’s a tool we advocates can use for our clients.  Just as importantly, it’s a tool we advocates can contribute to, too.  At this juncture, that contribution may be the more important aspect.

Continue Reading →

1

Professionalism Ratchets Up a Notch at the 2012 NAHAC Conference

Posted by:

While Superstorm Sandy made an attempt to put the kibosh on this year’s NAHAC Conference (National Association of Health Advocacy Consultants), she could not dampen the spirits, nor the passion or professionalism of this year’s gathering.

… proving, once again, that you can’t slow down this advocacy freight train.

While I understand that a handful of folks didn’t make the trip (some from storm-torn areas), the crowd was almost as large as it might have been if no storm ever tried to stand in the way.  As it turned out, at least a half-dozen folks from the NYC / NJ / Southern Connecticut area made the effort to be there because the hotel had a hot shower and internet – which they didn’t have at home (yet!)  The Hyatt was happy to accommodate.

My overall observation of the event?

Continue Reading →

2
Page 31 of 35 «...10202930313233...»