Part III: The Dirty Dozen Skills, Abilities, and Attributes of Successful Health and Patient Advocates and Care Managers

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Yes, Part III, as promised in our second installment when we continued with three additional attributes of successful advocates.

This week we are concentrating on marketing skills. Many readers know I believe most assuredly that no advocate can successfully establish an independent, private practice unless he or she effectively markets his or her abilities and availability. Period.

Which of these describe you and your abilities?  Which of them do not?  Where do you go from here?

Do your own assessment! 

 

8. Effective marketing begins with good and consistent branding.  Good branding is not just about images, logos, colors, or tag lines. Good branding is about behavior: being trustworthy, keeping promises, being consistent, showing up, following through, finding the right resources – all those important behaviors you expect from a professional.

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Don’t Let HIPPA* Drag Us Down

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Today I’m sharing a beef about HIPAA. Respect for our profession is at stake.

Remember, one of our goals is to become one of THE most respected of professions who work in the healthcare system. Today’s post is an ode to that goal.

HIPAA is the acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.  (It often surprises people to learn that the P in HIPAA has nothing to do with privacy, because that’s the specific reason we must deal with it – for privacy’s sake.)

Advocates are no strangers to HIPAA, even though we are still unsure about whether advocates are considered to be covered entities. It’s something we deal with for every new client. At the beginning of each new client relationship, we ensure that all HIPAA forms have been signed, ready to be handed over to every provider who raises an eyebrow when we appear on the scene to assist our clients.

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Direct to Patients: Frank, Honest, and Motivational

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In Marketing 101, we learn that we learn that it is imperative to accurately identify our target audiences, then , then develop motivational messages for them about the benefits of working with us.

Find the right people. Share the right messages.

The blog you’re reading right now does just that: it speaks to advocates and care managers (you! – the right people – our target audience of advocates, care managers, and those who wish to join our profession) to teach them something about their work, and to help them understand the benefits of connection with The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates. (Yes, I try to practice what I preach!)

Last week we launched a new benefit for APHA members – which helps them do exactly what Marketing 101 teaches. It speaks directly to THEIR target audiences to help those audiences better understand the benefits of working with independent advocates, then help them find the right advocate to work with.

OK – a bit confusing – so let me sort it out.

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An Advocate’s Website Checklist

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As we close in on the end of the year, many of you are (or at least should be) in the process of reviewing your marketing plans in preparation for the new year.

Others among you, those who are just getting started with building advocacy practices, may be looking at ways to improve what you’ve started (or maybe you even just hope to get started!)

Among the marketing tactics we should all be using is a marketing website. In fact, except for finding public speaking opportunities, your website is arguably THE most important piece of marketing you can use.

Most of you realize that, and appropriately put your efforts into building effective websites. During the past few weeks, I’ve been asked to review a handful of advocates’ websites. Unfortunately, I have had to say no – there has just been no time to do so.

So I thought about how could I help out without getting myself into a time pickle… and began writing…

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Carly Simon, Ketchup and an Advocate’s Secret Sauce

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Many readers of this blog (members of The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates) know we’ve been burning the candle at both ends trying to complete the build of the new APHA membership website.  Short of raising my two daughters, I think it’s the biggest project I’ve ever undertaken – just enormous – hundreds of resources and thousands of pages – and I’m happy that it is now complete! (Or at least as close as it will ever be – these things are never truly complete.)

Along the way, I’ve learned a few lessons about how to approach the work that can help you, too. And here is the bottom line to those lessons:

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… and Now the New York Times

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Over the years I’ve been asked this so many times – when do I think health and patient advocacy as a well-known profession will “arrive?”  As if there should be some sort of date on which a switch is flipped and the world begins to recognize, then hire independent advocates to help them navigate the healthcare system.

Truth is, I’ve been expecting that tipping point for years. But (true confession) the evolution has been slower than I anticipated. Despite my 30+ years of business experience, working with every size business in every area of business imaginable, my crystal ball is still somewhat tarnished and my prediction abilities remain challenged.

The answer remains:  I just don’t know. It has been growing steadily. The opportunities are apparent every day!  But… yes, it has been slower than I thought it would be.

So many advocates, frustrated because the profession isn’t more mainstream, and because their phones don’t begin ringing off their hooks the moment they hang out their shingles, ask me “Why can’t the Alliance make it happen?  Just do a lot of big promotion!  Why aren’t you pushing advocacy in national press?  Or doing lots of google advertising? or?”

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How to Overcome the Biggest Challenge in Patient Advocacy Today

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A few weeks ago at the WASHAA Annual Meeting (Washington State Health Advocacy Association) I was asked my opinion on the biggest challenges in patient advocacy as we turn the corner to 2016.

I didn’t hesitate with my answer. I know exactly what those huge challenges are. So I shared my answer, which I’ll also share with you in a minute.

As an individual, your answers might be slightly different from the ones I see. You might consider your biggest challenges to be recognition of the profession by potential clients, the ability to get people to pay for your services, the juggling of business as well as your advocacy work, time management – or many others. (What DO you think are your biggest challenges?  Please comment to let us know.)

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Off to a Running Start!

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During the next few weeks, just prior to January 1, our brains begin to process the “Oh no! A new year is about to arrive! It’s time to make another New Year’s resolution!”  And then, the thought we all try to suppress… “… which I’ll give up by the end of January.”

Yikes! That’s no way to get started, feeling as if we’re going to fail before we even get going!

I’m no different. I undertake this annual process just like everyone else does. And yes, usually by the end of January, I’m as guilty as almost everyone else who gives up on their resolutions, too. Year after year after year…

This year…. OK, so this year I’m promising myself it’s going to be different. You know the definition of insanity – it’s repeating the same behavior and expecting different results, so THIS year, I’m going to try NOT to repeat the same behavior.

… Starting with timing and its effect on preparation. Part of the problem is timing!  We expect to throw the switch on changing out a bad habit, or any non-productive habitual behavior (or lack thereof) – but we just aren’t prepared to make that change. Is it possible that lack of preparation is what has stymied us in the past? Is it possible that better preparation for such big changes will improve our success rates?

Here’s what I’m talking about…  two personal examples, both putting me out on a limb, but in an effort to lead by example for you I’m making a vow to change – and I’m doing it NOW, before January 1. I am prepared. I have a running start….

<gulp!>

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