The More Things Change, The More They…

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2books-newold… seem to change.

Yes – I know that’s not the way that saying is supposed to go, but in this case, it’s true.

Healthcare – and the pursuit if its best outcomes – changes constantly.  Just think about the changes over the past few years!

I suggest to you that all the changes in healthcare, ranging from the ACA, to updated research results, to use of the internet, to changes in DRGs and CPTs, to outright FRAUD – all create opportunities for advocates to market themselves and their services.

All these changes have been on my mind in a big way for the past six months:

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Here’s my shameless plug – in a moment I’ll return to the point of this blog post….
oldbook-stickynotes
There were enough changes to the healthcare system, that last winter I decided to update my first book:  You Bet Your Life! The 10 Mistakes Every Patient Makes (How to Fix Them to Get the Healthcare You Deserve)*  First published in early 2010, it turns out that there were more than 100 changes in only 300 pages. I’m not talking about typos. I’m talking about changes that result from the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the ways patients are making decisions (Shared Decision Making process). I’m talking about the regard for high technology (those surgical robots aren’t so in favor these days.)  The list goes on and on.  Here’s more information about the updated version, just published in early August, and a photo so you can see how many changes were made.)

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… All the while I was rewriting my book, I kept thinking of all the ways patient advocates could take advantage of the changes to further their marketing efforts.

Three examples:

Shared Decision Making is written into the ACA. It is expected that doctors will deal with it by parking their patients in front of a computer (or handing them an iPad or tablet) to watch a video or two, and then will expect their patients to sign something that says they’ve been informed of their options.  Yes – well – we all know what that’s going to look like  That makes Shared Decision Making RIPE for marketing – both to individuals and to doctor’s offices who don’t want to deal with it (and don’t really want their patients to understand additional options.)

Electronic Health Records make it easier than ever for mistakes to be replicated throughout a patient’s entire posse of doctors.  EHRs are a great place for advocates to begin their work with patients, going through the records and helping them correct those errors (and learning about the patient’s challenges overall.)

Hospitals are taking a financial hit on Medicare patients who return to them within 30 days after discharge. Of course, the hospital discharge process has never been very useful for patients or caregivers – and frankly, since they could make ever more money if patients were readmitted, then hospitals never cared to clean up their acts.  But now that it’s costing them money, hospitals are far more interested in the patient’s outcomes.  There’s a role in there for advocates – are you taking advantage of this knowledge?

The bottom line for advocates is that we MUST stay up with changes in the healthcare landscape – not just to be sure our clients are getting their best advice, but also to look for those additional marketing opportunities that come our way, too.

Have you kept up?  What other changes are you familiar with – and have you used them for marketing purposes?

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*These books are great gifts for clients. APHA members may purchase them in bulk.

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Agree? Disagree?

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The Affordable Care Act / Obamacare Defines Perfect Roles for Private Professional Patient Advocates

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ACAThe healthcare reform law called the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – or Obamacare if you prefer the moniker (preferences seem to run about 50/50) – is being implemented over time. Of course, as most of us realize, the major portion described as the individual mandate, kicks in January 1, 2014 – only a few months from now.

No matter how you feel about the legislation for your personal situation, you owe it to yourself to become familiar with the aspects of the law that define excellent roles for health advocates, no matter what type of advocacy they practice – medical navigational, research or decision-making, medical billing, hospital bedside advocacy or others.

Last week, members of the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates were privileged to spend an hour with Linda Adler, a member of the Alliance, who has studied healthcare reform long and hard, talking about the important aspects of the ACA that clients may ask about, talking about resources to help answer client questions, and then, importantly, the many opportunities the ACA creates to help advocates market our advocacy practices.

It was one of the most useful hours any of us have spent in a long time.

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Stealing Not Allowed

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plagiarismSuppose you wake up one morning, and realize as you make your way to the kitchen that someone has broken in overnight and stolen your belongings!

You never heard anything – you slept right through it. And yet, they’ve taken some of your most valued possessions.

You feel violated. You’ve lost your sense of security. It’s a disruption, it’s disturbing, it makes you feel sick….

You try to figure out exactly what is missing, what exactly they have taken, and you wonder whether you’ll ever get any of it back or even more importantly, whether you can ever feel safe in your own home again.

They’ve not only stolen your stuff, they have destroyed your peace of mind.

Very upsetting.

I’ve been fortunate.  (Knock wood) no one has ever broken into my home.  But I’ve felt that same sense of violation and it forever altered my peace of mind….

How?

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Amy Vanderbilt, Emily Post and My Mother Are Turning Over in Their Graves

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scoldI suspect you were raised just like I was.  As a polite young lady, one who knew and followed the rules of etiquette (a là those mavens of etiquette, Amy Vanderbilt and Emily Post), I was taught never to toot my own horn. Bragging about accomplishments just isn’t polite. Let someone else recognize your achievements, and if they mention them to you, just blush, and politely deflect.  Do your best not to take credit, and certainly don’t make it sound like you’re proud of what you’ve done….as in “What, this old thing?…)

(Unless, of course, you are male. Your rules may have been quite different!)

That “don’t take credit” thing has plagued women (and some men) who start and grow businesses since the dawn of entrepreneurism, and it will continue to get in the way as long as children are raised to believe they aren’t supposed to own up to their accomplishments.  It’s a demon we advocacy practice builders and owners must overcome if we want to be successful.

Going against the grain of our upbringing is a lot like intentionally coloring outside the lines – easier for some and not easy at all for others.

But today I will do just that – in part to just plain showcase my advocacy work over the past 9 years, and in part, to lead by example. If you are one of those “non-horn-tooters” – please pay attention.

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Beware Those Wolves in Sheeps’ Clothing

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wolfTwo 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 in this week’s 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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