Professionalism Ratchets Up a Notch at the 2012 NAHAC Conference

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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?

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The Lessons We’ll Learn from Dad

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My father, Richard F. Torrey (known to friends as Dick), passed away yesterday, Sunday, September 30th. He was a remarkable man who led a remarkable life.

I tell you this because part of Dad’s legacy is going to be the healthcare and advocacy lessons we learned along the way. Dad as patient. Daughter as advocate. A treasure trove of experiences.

Over the years I took note of the many – MANY – experiences we had through his health journey.  But I haven’t written about many of them….  As long as Dad was still alive, there was privacy to consider and maintain.  He and I talked about that many times.  Something notable would happen, we’d wend our way through it, then he would tell me, “Write that one down – it will be a good one to share someday.”

Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1986 – yes, you read that right – 26 years ago. (By the way – that was before the PSA test existed for diagnosis.)  He had surgery that year, but some of those cancer cells escaped.  So Dad dealt with the disease for the next 26 years. You can imagine what we learned along the way about the healthcare system – both good and bad.

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Start and Grow Your Independent, Private Advocacy Practice – Coming Soon!

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Coming Soon!

I’m happy to announce that my next book is now in the hands of the publisher, in the final stages of being edited, prepped and printed:

The Health Advocate’s Start and Grow Your Own Practice Handbook – is on its way.

Pre-orders are now available (through October 1.)
($10 off the total of cover price, plus shipping and handling).
Pre-ordered books will be mailed on or before November 1.

It’s a step-by-step guide, covering soup to nuts, for starting a one person, solo practice or a partnership of two or more people.  If your intent is to start up a multi-national corporation, then no – this book isn’t going to do that for you.  But if you have some good advocacy experience (navigation, billing, therapy, mediation or others) and you wish to start your own practice, for-profit or non-profit, then this book can get you there.  It includes details for advocates in both the United States and Canada.

And – the book comes with a bonus!  (See below)

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Getting Your Clients Past Magical Thinking

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Today’s post is very personal, reflecting a situation I believe many families go through, brought on by any number of attitudes and fears.  I’m hoping that by sharing it, you can find a role for your advocacy work.

It’s about providing a gift to some of your patients and their families – in effect, giving them permission to say no to further treatment.

As I thought about the situation, I remembered back to a blog post I had written almost four years ago called “When Is It Time to Just Say NO to Further Treatment?”  When I wrote it, I was referring to my mother who at the time was in her 10th year of her Alzheimer’s diagnosis and had little or no cognition left, yet my father kept insisting she be treated for every urinary tract infection (UTI) she acquired (or, perhaps more like, never really got rid of.)  It made no sense to me, yet Dad was just so desperate to keep Mom alive.

My post was based on this article from the New York Times:  In Cancer Therapy, There Is a Time to Treat and a Time to Let Go which talks about patients desperately insisting on treatment, even though it not only won’t prolong their lives, but will actually cause them more distress. In effect, helping them get past (what many experts call) Magical Thinking.

The question is:  Who suggests to the patient and family that a treatment isn’t magical?  Who helps them get past wishful thinking and into reality?  Who says to a cancer patient, “Chemo is toxic, and while you might get an extra week or two on this earth, you’ll be sicker for that time – your quality of life cannot be improved. Are you sure you still want to put yourself through that?” ??? Continue Reading →

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Just Can’t Throw Your Business Switch? The Paralysis of Analysis

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See if this describes you:

You’ve been thinking about becoming a private health or patient advocate for awhile.  You know you can do it, you truly WANT to do it, you know people need help with their medical system challenges…

But something, undefined, just holds you back.

You may have taken courses in patient or health advocacy.  Maybe you’ve been a volunteer advocate for your family members, or friends. Everyone you know thinks it’s a great step for you.  You’ve connected with others who want to be advocates.  You’re quite good at getting at the heart of challenges patients face so you aren’t too concerned about whether you could actually do the work.

But something, you’re not sure what, just holds you back… You just can’t seem to make that leap from being a volunteer who steps in to help, to being a professional, privately-paid, patient advocate or navigator in your own private patient advocacy practice.

Sound familiar?

This is a conversation I have frequently with almost-advocates.  The most recent was this week with a PACE member of AdvoConnection, one of the most knowledgeable advocates I know.  But she hasn’t flipped that switch yet.  No – so far – she just hasn’t officially opened her practice.  She just hasn’t thrown that switch.

It’s called the paralysis of analysis – our tendency to over think, to worry that we’re not doing something exactly right, to be concerned that we’ve missed some important detail…. to the point where it stops us in our tracks.

The good news? There IS a cure. The bad news?  That paralysis of analysis keeps us from pursuing that cure, actually makes us do things we would never do otherwise and, worst of all, prevents those patients we would help from finding us and getting the help they need.

In other words – if you are among the paralyzed, there are people getting sicker or poorer because you haven’t thrown that switch.

There are a number of reasons I’ve been able to identify that cause the paralysis of analysis, and they are all about questioning one’s capabilities:

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