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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An Advocate’s Guide to CYA

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One of the simplest best practices for patient advocates is also the one with the fuzziest line. Sometimes it can be difficult to know at what point that fuzzy line will be crossed, and since crossing it can lead to problems for a client, put a private advocate out of business, or even result in a lawsuit against the advocate, we need clearer definition to be sure we C our own As (that is, CYA = Cover Your A**.)

Let me explain.

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5 Lousy Excuses for Walking Away from an Advocacy Practice – and 1 Very Good One

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The blame game has been on my mind recently after several emails or phone conversations, plus the results of an exit survey offered when APHA memberships expire. In all cases, people gave reasons (as in, excuses) for why they felt like it was time to give up their practices or let their memberships expire.

In almost every case where someone actually started a practice, then decided to step away, they blame some part of their practice that didn’t work out. They wanted to be independent advocates. They certainly expected to succeed when they got started. Their passion and drive were clearly there!  But – they failed. And there is always a reason, or more like a lousy excuse.

It makes me sad, because they have given up dreams, because there will be people who don’t get the help they need, and because if they had been more diligent, those negatives didn’t need to happen.

Thus today’s post. Because the rest of us can learn so much from lousy excuses!  Here are five of them (in no particular order), along with the reasons why they don’t hold water.  Plus one great reason to walk away – one we can all admire.

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If an Advocate Launches in the Forest, and No One Hears….

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Consider Bertha.

Bertha has been knitting since learning how at age 12. She’s a wonderful knitter! She has been knitting for decades – scarves, sweaters, hats, gloves and mittens, socks,  you name it – then giving her creations away to friends, relatives, even grandbabies of friends. Everyone who knows Bertha recognizes her superb knitting skills.

Because of her extensive experience, she considers herself to be a professional. Her passion is knitting! So last year, Bertha decided to open a business as a knitting teacher. After all, as much as she knows about knitting, she knows she’ll be a great teacher!

After doing some research, Bertha joined an online organization that supports knitting teachers. She has found a ton of information there, and loves to connect with other knitting teachers in the discussion forum.

Most importantly, she made sure she was listed in the Knitting Teacher Directory – then sat back and waited for her phone to ring.

And waited. And waited. And waited.

But – Bertha’s phone rarely rang. Now she’s upset. Why don’t more people call her to teach them to knit? Only one person has inquired, and that was a friend’s daughter, who she decided to teach for free.

Bertha hasn’t made a dime.

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Open Enrollment – Confusion Spells Opportunity

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What a MESS Open Enrollment is this year!  No matter where your health insurance comes from – an employer, the Obamacare exchanges, or Medicare – it’s changed up, switched up, and more confusing than it has ever been.

YOU, as an independent health or patient advocate or care manager live (and fight) in this world of “let’s make money from patients even if we have to deny the services they need” world. You know what it’s like having to get a treatment, or claim, or hospitalization approved for someone who has inadequate insurance coverage. You know what it’s like when they ask you to help them get a bill reduced, or when the doctor they have been seeing for years suddenly won’t accept their insurance anymore. You know what it’s like when they realize that the hospital they were rushed to in an ambulance isn’t even in their insurance network.

You understand their confusion. You may even be confused yourself.

This year we’re going to experience the added confusion of the changes the new administration in Washington has made, including reduced subsidies, reduced Open Enrollment period, and the resulting upset when people find out their current coverage is no longer being offered (several of the largest insurers have dropped out of the ACA marketplaces). And that’s just Open Enrollment. What’s going to happen when the reality of 2018 sets in, and we all have to function under the new rules?

But – here’s the good news. We are business owners!  As such, we never hear negativity in the word “confusion.” Instead, when we hear the word “confusion” – we hear OPPORTUNITY!

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