Beware Those Wolves in Sheeps’ Clothing

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This post was originally published in July 2013, and was updated in July 2020. 

Two unrelated stories have crossed my path, but their bottom lines are the same.  It’s too easy to be fooled. 

Story #1:  … is based on a scathing article from the Wall Street Journal about the amount of money medical device companies pay to the doctors who use their products.  The story is mostly focused on investigations from the Justice Department starting with one doctor who lived and worked in California, Dr. Aria Sabit, who insisted on using certain spinal implant products because he owns part of the distributorship company and is making money in a half dozen ways – from kickbacks to distributorship profits – over each surgery he does.

But the story-within-the-story is that Dr. Sabit is also named in 12 lawsuits over the deaths of people who died as a result of his surgeries – and who had received those implants to help them live better-quality lives. It matters little whether the fault lies with the implants or the doctor’s skill level; those patients are dead.

But there’s more to the story, of course, and unfortunately, it’s not a part of the WSJ article.

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(Update #5) For Your Listening and Learning Pleasure…

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Covid-19 Update:  April 13, 2020

Whether you’re holed up in your home office, or enjoying a nice walk or other exercise, or anything in between, your earpods, or earbuds, or a headset can be your friend and teacher for three podcasts APHA recently recorded and published under the title Crisis Conversations.

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(Update #4) Finding Opportunities During this Crisis

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Covid-19 Update: April 1, 2020

Sadly, but not surprisingly, I know those of you in practice just aren’t hearing much from new business / clients these days. Beyond the fact that everyone still appears to be in shock over this crisis (no surprise – aren’t we all?), I’m sure most people who might have been reaching out for help feel like even advocates would be helpless. After all – we’re all shut in. Even in areas where that’s not the law, smart people – the ones who reach out for private advocates – have taken those steps themselves.

During the past few days, we have been developing more podcasts about managing one’s advocacy practice thru this pandemic. We’ll be adding to the series within the next day or two once the new ones (cost advocates, and marketing) are added to the list.

So today I want to share the one, VERY IMPORTANT, overarching theme among those advocates who are going to pull their practices through the crisis.

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(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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