Happy Birthday to Us! AdvoConnection Turns 5

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birthdaypeopleDateline:  September 1, 2009
The AdvoConnection membership organization was launched on this date in an effort to find people who could help patients navigate their medical journeys.

Happy Birthday to Us!  (Yes – “us” – because the AdvoConnection Membership Organization was the original name of Alliance of Professional Health Advocates!)

My how times have changed!  (And yet, they haven’t changed much at all… )

The original site was only intended to be a directory – sort of Match.com for patients and advocates – and 30 people stepped forward to be included. (We had been collecting email addresses of interested parties since early 2007.) Many are still members of the organization today – charter members! – meaning they have been successfully providing services to patients for at least five years. (I hope that gives some of you newer folks some hope 🙂 )

My how healthcare times have changed too! (And yet, they haven’t changed much at all… )  I remember that when we launched, some pundits thought we would be no more than a short-term solution… After all, healthcare reform was approved just a few months later. That was going to fix the system! 

But of course, it not only didn’t fix the system, but if anything, it only makes what our members do even more important than ever before.

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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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What Health Advocates Need to Know about the Affordable Care Act

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It’s official and it’s not going away.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as healthcare reform, or the ACA, is changing the face of healthcare for every American. The first changes became effective shortly after its passage in 2010.  New parts of the law will continue to be implemented until January 1, 2014 when the biggest part of the law, the individual mandate, will ensure (almost) ever American has some form of insurance or government coverage to pay for the care they need.

Are you, as an independent health advocate, prepared for those changes? Even further, are you prepared to help your clients and potential clients understand them?

Here’s why it’s important you become familiar with the new ACA law – not just for yourself, but for your practice, too:

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Advocacy, Politics and the 2012 Elections

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I’ve been in Florida for the past week, working, advocating, feeling my jaw clench and my back go up each time I’ve seen or heard a commercial or watched a newscast that focuses on one of the Republican primary candidates.  (As an aside – it’s not because they are Republican – it’s because the commercials are so nasty, denigrating, and insulting or because the candidates or their henchmen say such nasty, denigrating, insulting things about each other.)

Florida, of course, is the next primary state, to where all the candidates will  rush once the results are in from South Carolina. Even though they aren’t here yet, they have already ramped up the vitriol.  It’s not pretty. And to my ears, it’s abusive.

Since this is my first APHA – AdvoConnection blog post written during a presidential campaign, I thought it might be wise to raise the issue of the profession of health advocacy and the discussion of politics.

I have a one word piece of advice for combining the two:  DON’T.

Especially during the next 10 months when every discussion of healthcare will be colored by the national elections, trying to discuss the topic with a potential client, or even an already-client, will be dangerous at best, and may be cause for losing not just that one client, but all potential future clients affected by that one’s word-of-mouth.

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Putting WOM to Work for You

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One of our AdvoConnection members got in touch after a talk he gave to his local Rotary Club.  He was disappointed in the turn-out and wondered whether all his effort was worth it.  After our brief email conversation, it seemed that sharing some of the important points might be a good idea since you might run into some of his same issues.

Those issues are based on presentation and expectations.  So let’s take a look.

Public Speaking, whether there are 5, 50, 500 or 5000 people in attendance is a great form of WOM – that is, word of mouth marketing.  In fact, there is no more powerful form of marketing than word-of-mouth. And perhaps the best part – not only is it free (the cost comes in time and effort, but not money) – but sometimes, when you get good enough at it, you might be paid to do public speaking, too. Public speaking may not be word-of-mouth in the traditional sense (someone else’s word from someone else’s mouth) but it’s WOM nonetheless.

Here’s why WOM is so powerful for patient and health advocates:  it creates a sense of trust.  People hear you speak, they see who you are as a person, they observe how well you think on your feet, and they decide for themselves what your capabilities might be.  That sense of trust is huge for our patient-clients who are putting their lives, and their money, in our hands.

Our member’s concern was that he had been promised many more attendees would be there. He had worked with the Rotary Club president on the topic, “ObamaCare” and was told there would be 15 – 18 people in attendance.  Only 10 people showed up.

When he told me the title of his talk, I cringed, Continue Reading →

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