(Update #3) Starter Ideas for Helping Clients During a Pandemic

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Covid-19 Update: March 21, 2020

Responses to my previous post indicate many advocates are beginning to emerge from your “OMG” moments and trying to figure out how to get started, to prepare yourselves for what is to come.  GREAT!

Here’s a start – a good idea for getting your head into the right space while you help others: Research local pharmacies, their hours, their delivery options, and phone numbers. Do some outreach to current and pending clients (call, text, or email) to ask them about their supply of their regular, daily meds, and to remind them they will need to stock up. Lead times for refills may be longer during this crisis, so early-ordering is essential.

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Patient Advocates and the Coronavirus

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know you can’t turn on the news, read news online or in a newspaper, or attend an event, or go anywhere – in person or online – without seeing or hearing something about the 2019 coronavirus.

It’s the only health-related story that can knock the horror of uncontrolled medical bills lower down the list of headlines. And, of course, because its eventual impact is totally unknown, it frightens people in ways only the media knows how to frighten people.

Since we all work in the world of health and medical care, and because advocates are known to be straight-shooters (because our allegiance is only to patients!) you may find friends, family, clients, and potential clients turning to you for information, asking you questions about the virus. I know this because in 2009, when the Swine Flu (H1N1) hit, I was writing for About.com (now VeryWellHealth.com ) and the number of people reading my articles shot from about 20,000 a day to 100,000+ readers per day – all reading articles I had written about Swine Flu from a patient’s point of view. From curtailing conspiracy theories, to dos’ and don’ts, to staying safe, etc… They weren’t science. They were reassurance through facts, focused on providing peace of mind.

Now, fast forward 10+ years, and it’s time for all patient advocates to step up to that role. Everyone can access the web and read what’s there – frightening information put out there by groups that DO want us to be afraid, and groups who DO want us to spend money to allay our fears.

So – as advocates and care managers – let’s see what we can do to be different!

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Are You the Chicken? or the Pig?

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If you consider a bacon-and-egg breakfast, what is the difference between the chicken and the pig?

It’s a question that determines commitment. While the chicken can produce many eggs over a lifetime, the pig can produce bacon only once. The chicken may be involved in the breakfast, but the pig is totally committed.

So what does that have to do with independent advocacy?

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Charging on a Sliding Scale Just Creates a Can of Worms

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Most advocates and care managers I know have huge hearts. They want to help everyone who needs help! They truly dislike having to charge money for their services (because many have done this work for free for friends and loved ones for a lifetime). Further, in many cases, they don’t give themselves credit for being as capable as they are.

So they struggle. They ask themselves how on earth they are going to ask for money from these (possibly desperate) people who contact them, especially when:

  • They are new, and haven’t worked in private practice for very long (if at all).
  • They are unsure of their pricing, having taken a wild guess as to what they should charge.
  • They have previously done care management only as a volunteer, never having charged for advocacy services before.
  • They don’t know how long their work will take, so can’t figure out what to charge anyway.
  • They hate asking for money.

All of the above or at least some of the above…. is that you?

So then they they declare – I know! I’ll just charge people on a sliding scale! That way they will only pay me what they can afford, but – they will pay me! And that’s a start.

Whew! What a relief. Right?

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Need More Clients? 3 Marketing Realities and Resources

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“My directory listing doesn’t attract enough clients. What am I doing wrong?”

“I get calls, but we hang up the phone without a contract! What am I doing wrong?”

“I finished working with my client and don’t have anyone else to help. Now what?”

These are questions I am asked frequently and repeatedly. Maybe you have the same ones!

The answer to each one relates to marketing.

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