Starting Out? Why a Non-Profit Practice Is NOT the Right Answer for You

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This is a question – or a statement – I hear frequently from those who wish to be independent health or patient advocates who are considering which business formation they need to set up to be independent.*

After considerations of LLCs, or S-Corps or others, they tell me they want to establish a non-profit, then ask me if we offer resources to help them.

Fay is one such advocate wannabe. She asked, “Do you have any advice for establishing a non-profit or not-for-profit agency to help patients?”

Unfortunately, her question was being asked for the wrong reasons.

Why?

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How Does a Patient Choose the Best Advocate to Hire?

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I’ve been working on updating the AdvoConnection Directory website because it was time, because search engines look favorably upon updates. And because my not-frequent-enough review of the site’s analytics produced a big surprise!

A surprise I’ll share with you here today.

To be clear – no changes were made to the actual search and profile areas – those all belong to our listed advocates who make those changes themselves.

Instead, I edited and updated the support pages – everything from the homepage to the About Us page to the “how to choose and interview an advocate” page.

For some background:  I monitor and track the advocate listing pages diligently (and encourage our listed members to monitor their own – we provide them with stats each month.)  I know people are finding our advocates in the Directory in HUGE numbers (examples: 16,000+ in January and 15,500+ in February, a shorter month, of course).

However – true confessions here – as in “do as I say, and not as I do” – I rarely look at the analytics on the basic site pages.Just not something I make time for… although as I learned this week – I should!  Because I was actually very surprised by what I learned.

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How Much Do Patient Advocates Charge?

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If someone asked me what question I am asked most frequently, I’d tell them the answer is some variation of this family of questions:

  • How much do advocates charge for their services?
  • What is the hourly rate for patient advocates?
  • How much do patient advocates make?
  • How much money do patient advocates get paid?
  • What is the average amount a patient advocate charges?

We’ll begin by answering these questions with a question (bad form, but it makes our point…)

  • How much does it cost to take a vacation?
  • What does it cost to go to college?
  • How much more can I make if I get a new job?

Think about those questions for a minute: they are actually kind of silly. In fact, there is only ONE answer; the same answer to the questions about advocates, cost, and pricing.

It depends.

So of course, now you want to know… “Depends on what?” There are two answers:

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When Is an Advocate Not an Advocate?

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Twice in the past week, I heard from people whose APHA memberships expired, explaining why they didn’t renew. In both cases excuses in the form of complaints about their memberships were made. A little bit of research turned up the facts that those complaints were at least misguided. I responded to each of them about their frustrations. In both cases, they felt insulted.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I receive criticism and suggestions on a regular basis, sometimes including good, usable, feedback. I’m always appreciative of constructive feedback and ideas even if it’s in the form of criticism. That’s how we improve the benefits APHA offers.

Further, I recognize there are many reasons someone might not want to renew a membership. Sometimes health challenges have gotten in the way. Sometimes someone just decides independent advocacy wasn’t a good fit for them. Most of the time I hear nothing at all.

But that’s not what these exchanges were. In both cases they were making excuses by using APHA membership as the whipping post. Not kosher.

Where have they been for the past year?  Why did they wait until their memberships expired to complain? I wonder how they think they can be good advocates for other people if they don’t even advocate for themselves?

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To Gain a New Client, You’ll Have to Break 2 Bad Habits

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The phone rings. It’s a new, potential client calling. You answer, “This is Joan Advocate. May I help you?”

The client, Juanita, is relieved to hear your friendly voice. She launches into her story about the doctor not listening to her, and that she can’t fill her prescription because it’s too expensive. Then she asks if you can help her.

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