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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Families Need You: A Thanksgiving Opportunity

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Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season are right around the corner. Smart health and patient advocates and care managers can find this season to be a golden opportunity to expand their reach in many positive ways.

The holidays are family times. Generations come together. Inevitably someone is facing a health and/or health system challenge.  Aunt Joan has a new cancer diagnosis and hasn’t even considered a second opinion.  Dad needs help sorting out his meds, while daughter Francine questions about whether he’s taking the right drugs at the right times, or whether the prescriptions he’s taking are causing some new symptoms. Cousin Jack is drowning in medical debt; he has no idea know how to fight a denied claim, or choose the right health insurance plan.  Uncle Victor, age 78, doesn’t have a DNR or a will because he doesn’t understand their importance.

These are the times family members begin to worry – and wonder who can help out.

The answer is YOU – a friend, a neighbor, a fellow church or temple congregant.  YOU can help them. They probably just don’t know that.

There are a few ways you can quite simply, and gently let them know that you are available should the need arise.  Here are some ideas for getting the word out:

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All We Really Need to Know About Being Good Advocates We Learned in Kindergarten

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As children across the US and Canada start kindergarten this time of the year, I’m reminded of Robert Fulghum’s book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, a classic, published more than 30 years ago.

I’ve actually written about advocates and the kindergarten principles before, years ago, as applied to some real negativity we were experiencing as a profession then. But today’s piece is updated, much more positive, and contains some further advice not shared then.

So much of this kindergarten wisdom is appropriate to our successful running of an independent advocacy or care management practice – no matter whether it’s back-to-school time or not.

So, with a nod to author Fulghum, let’s review.

1. Be Respectful and Expect to Be Respected in Return

This is 360o advice: be respectful of others, and expect them to return the same. Now, you might respond “Yeah… Duh! Of course!” but I’m constantly amazed at the stories I hear about disrespect in relation to advocacy.  I’ve heard about:

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