Successes, Failures, and My Biggest Surprise

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12 years. While on the one hand, 12 years seems like a looong time, on the other hand, it has gone by in the blink of an eye.

I’m referring to the 12 years I’ve focused my professional life on building the profession of independent health and patient advocacy, having made the decision in 2007 to begin building an online presence for advocates through the AdvoConnection Directory website. It eventually launched in Fall 2009* and evolved to become The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates.

So I’ve been giving thought to what I consider to be our biggest successes, biggest failures, and biggest surprises during this time, and that’s what I’m sharing with you today. These are my own opinion, of course!  You might make other choices. See what you think:

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Fashionistas! What Hats Does an Advocate Wear?

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I played golf the other day with a group of women I didn’t know well. I came away from the round being less pleased with my golf game (I really can’t putt!), but much pleased with the conversation and its application for our health and patient advocacy profession. In fact, I was so pleased with it, I went home and recorded notes so I could remember the conversation to share with you.

The ladies I played with were very curious about advocates. They all had healthcare horror stories to share. One had recently been through some bad medical experiences with her husband. One by one throughout the morning, she told me about some healthcare system transgression he (they) had suffered. For each one, I described to her some ways an independent advocate might have helped (with the emphasis on “independent” for all the obvious reasons.)

Ultimately the conversation produced a list of “hats” – the many kinds of help and support an advocate can provide. It wasn’t a list of services, such as the list we’ve included on the AdvoConnection Directory site. Instead it was more about benefits and support.

So I share this list with you today and invite you to add to it below. Each hat completes the sentence: An (independent) advocate is a _________________.

Of course, not all advocates wear all these hats, but all advocates wear at least some of them.

So, advocate fashionistas… What hats can you add to the list?

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Top 10 “Best Of” APHA Posts: 2017 in Review

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As 2017 comes to a close, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the blog posts you, my readers, considered to be most worth your reading time. Using post analytics, I’m able to see how many of you have read each of the 44 posts from 2017. Then, accommodating for the fact that some posts have been online for 11+ months, while others were just posted recently, it’s easy to tell which ones captured your imagination (or google’s search interest) to make the assessment.

So here are the top 10 posts (well – OK – I did have trouble counting again), in chronological order, the oldest to the newest:

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What Matt Lauer Can Teach Us About Private, Independent Advocacy

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The shocking news last week (although not-so-shocking to some) that Matt Lauer had been kicked to the curb by NBC came in tandem with an email conversation with a newly minted health advocate who wanted to be listed in the AdvoConnection Directory, but who has a little (not so little) problem with her website and marketing materials.

It struck me that Lauer’s behavior, as he faced accusations, even though the circumstances are NOT at all the same, provides a lesson to share with you.

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How to Avoid P*ssing Off the Doctor in One Easy Step

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OK – granted – I used that title to get your attention, but there’s a lesson here for all of us whether we use it for our clients, or for ourselves, or for a loved one — and that is — how to share information you have learned about symptoms, diagnosis, or treatment, without putting your provider on the defensive, or upsetting him / her.

Too often I hear people I know, or (worse) a health or patient advocate, say “I TOLD that doctor … (fill in the blank)”.  Argh. It makes me cringe. Because such an approach will most definitely elicit the opposite response to what they intended.

We’ll begin by putting this shoe on the other foot….

Suppose you’ve been baking chocolate chip cookies all your adult life. These are cookies that are SO VERY EXCELLENT that you have developed a fine reputation for them. They are sought after for all the best bake sales. You are legend among your neighbors for showing up with a plate of cookies when family is coming in from out of town, or they are celebrating something big. YOU and DELICIOUS CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES have become synonymous in everyone’s mind.

You’re very proud (even if only secretly) of your fine chocolate chip cookie reputation. Not that you go around boasting about it – you wouldn’t do that. But you know that when it comes to chocolate chip cookies, you are da bomb.

Recently, new neighbors moved in across the street, a young couple with little children. It’s time to take some of your most excellent cookies to them as a welcome gift.

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