They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery. While there may be some truth to that, there is no truth to the idea that plagiarism is a form of flattery at all.
In my last post I shared with you my excitement at the advent of some new competition in the advocacy space, and gave you a list of six reasons why competition is a good thing, something to celebrate.
But sometimes there’s a downside to competition, too.
One such competitor to AdvoConnection, a new directory being set up in hopes of taking your money to match you with patients who need you, makes a mockery of the professionalism of advocates, as if we are the used car salespeople of health care.
Like Jeopardy, I’m going to start by giving you the answer:
- Patients and Caregivers
- Smart Health and Patient Advocates
So what’s the question? That would be: Who are the biggest beneficiaries when it comes to competition in the health and patient advocate space?
Just want to start with that perspective so we don’t lose sight of it as I begin describing recent events, as a prelude to some big excitement and perhaps, that moment we’ve all been waiting for….
In the eight years I’ve been working on promoting patient advocacy, there was more commotion, more positive movement, more negative noise, and perhaps the most excitement I have seen in the marketplace for patient advocates in just the past 10 days. Quite amazing, really.
That’s the good news.
The bad news? Sadly, much of it was reported to me in anger and frustration, as if it was a problem – a negative – as in “how could they?” It’s that C word – competition! As if competition is a negative thing.
It is not a negative thing – or – at least – it shouldn’t be. In fact, if anything, competition should be embraced for a number of reasons, with a few whys and hows below.
Yes – this post is #201 on this blog since it was first launched on June 1, 2010. At around 800 to 1,000 words per post (average) – that’s a lot of idea sharing.
When the blog was first started, it was intended to speak to both advocates and the patients who needed good ideas and advice. The AdvoConnection Directory was new. The membership organization, now called the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates, was simply called the AdvoConnection Member Organization. There was no cost to be a member (there is now!) – and yet we still had only about 120 interested parties who had opted in to a regular newsletter and some business advice and tips.
With this post, things have only grown – blossomed really. Patient and health advocacy and navigation has grown into a bona fide profession, only months away from offering certification, with more than three dozen educational institutions and organizations offering coursework, and thousands of patients having been served by private advocates.
I thought I’d share some statistics with you, just because maybe you’ll be interested in knowing what others with your similar career ideas have been interested in:
- 200 posts (today is #201)
- 364 public comments (and hundreds more thru email to me, behind the scenes)
- 102,177 visitors
The Top 6 Most Popular Posts:
In Fall 2010, about 150 health advocates, many of whom were just considering entering the profession, convened in Washington DC for the Second Annual NAHAC Conference. I was there at the invitation of NAHAC, to both be a vendor, and to give a presentation about marketing for advocates. The conference was a resounding success in my estimation, using my two conference-success measuring sticks: 1. I met so many smart, wonderful, passionate people and 2. I learned so much more than I imparted.
But there was one aspect to the conference that left a bad taste in my mouth, marring the experiences of too many, and lighting a fire under me.
Consider these scenarios:
- Scenario #1. Jane calls you, in a panic. Her mother, age 88, who lives in your city, has fallen at her nursing home. Mother Frederick has been hospitalized, but Jane can’t get there until late tomorrow and wonders if you would be willing to help her mother until Jane can get there. Of course you can! This is the very reason you are an advocate.
(Alternatively, Jane asks you to review her mother’s medical bills because she’s afraid her mother’s insurance isn’t covering everything it needs to cover. You, as a medical billing specialist, agree eagerly to help out.)
- Scenario #2. You’re so excited! You’ve just learned about patient advocacy as a profession and you know it’s a perfect way for you to make some extra money. So you start asking your friends if they like the idea – they all do – they think it’s a great idea! You sit down and do the math… and decide that yup – let’s go – I’m going to be a patient advocate! You find your first client, Mr. Howard, and you help him to the max! He is thrilled with the work you did for him. You know you’ve made the right choice. Patient advocacy is for you.
- Question #1: Do you see yourself in either scenario?
So let’s continue….