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!
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?
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?
“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.
You have dreamed about becoming a private health /patient advocate or care manager for a while. You know you can do it, you know you are a good advocate, your heart really WANTS to change careers to advocacy, you know people need help with their medical system challenges…
Plus everyone you know thinks it’s a great idea! They all tell you – OMG – there is such a huge need!
Maybe you have helped friends and family members over the years, or you have been a doctor or nurse for decades. (I often hear, “I’ve been an advocate all my life. Now I just want to get paid for it!”)
But something, maybe not clearly defined, is holding you back. Mostly it’s because you know you would have to start your own business to be truly independent (there’s the Allegiance Factor, after all)… and you’re not sure you’ve got the chops to do that. You just can’t seem to make that leap from being a volunteer who steps in to help, to being a professional, privately-paid, patient advocate, navigator, or care manager in your own private patient advocacy practice.
You’re just stuck. Your heart is THERE! But your brain won’t let you move forward. Sound familiar?