Don’t Let the YesButs Stand in Your Way

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Man showing tongue upside down .This post is dedicated to all our APHA members and non-members who have been infested with YesButs.

What’s a YesBut?  A YesBut is the answer to all those questions and suggestions intended to help them build their practices that they prefer to not think about. Further, it’s the answer that, until these same advocates find a solution, they will not succeed.

I wish I had a dollar for every YesBut someone fires back at me!

  • YesBut they need the help so badly and they don’t have any money!”
  • YesBut I’m afraid to quit my fulltime job until I’m making enough money to support myself!”
  • YesBut if the doctor doesn’t want me in the room, I don’t want to upset him.”
  • YesBut they get so unset in the hospital billing office when I ask questions!”
  • YesBut my client just calls out of the blue and an hour later we get off the phone. She’s so sweet, and I can’t just hang up on her!”

You get the picture.

Now – to be clear – there are some circumstances under which a YesBut is a perfectly appropriate answer.

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‘Tis the Season to Extend Your Outreach

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thanksgivingWho hires you to be their advocate?

Now – don’t worry – I’m not about to launch into paragraph upon paragraph about target audiences and motivation.  No – I’m gonna make this one real easy.

In this case, the answer is that it’s rarely one person who decides to hire you.  No matter who your usual target audiences are – seniors, the elderly, adult children, parents…. the answer today is that families and loved ones come together to consider hiring an advocate for a loved one when they recognize that loved one is having challenges related to their health and medical care.

  • Spouse discusses the idea with sick spouse.
  • Adult son discusses the idea with sister to hire an advocate for parent.
  • Brother considers hiring an advocate for brother – or sister for sister or another combination of siblings.
  • Friend recommends an advocate to very sick friend.

But here’s the important part:  They only have this discussion if they know advocates exist to help out to begin with!  So that’s the focus here – to let families know you are available.

Now – at what time of year do families tend to spend more time together than any other time?  Of course – the end-of-the-year holidays. Thanksgiving, Hannukkah (or, in 2013, Thanksgivakkah), Christmas, New Years….

This year, daughter will realize that elderly mom just can’t cook one more Thanksgiving dinner.  Older mother will realize that daughter who lives across the country just can’t fly home each time Dad has another “episode.”  Sister will discuss with sister-in-law her brother’s heart condition and their fear that he may have another heart attack.

One of our marketing best practices is that “timing is everything.”  So how can you leverage the knowledge that so many families will spend time together over the next six weeks to put yourself and your capabilities to help them in front of as many families as possible?

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Riddle Me This – Then Take a Step Back

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back view of a walking casual man looking to a side on white backgroundYou may have seen this riddle running around the internet:

It’s 3:00 am. Your doorbell rings. Unexpected visitors! It’s long time friends, and they are hungry for some breakfast. You have strawberry jam, honey, wine, bread and cheese. So what is the first thing you open?

Here’s one that’s similar, but is perhaps more appropriate for an audience of health advocates:

It’s 3:00 am. Your doorbell rings. It’s your neighbors! One is clutching his chest and screams, I’ve been shot! The second one is holding her thigh and says, I’ve been shot, too! What’s the first thing you do?

We’ll score you on a scale from 0 to 4, based on the following (no cheating!):


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What Patients Fear – The Waiter Will Spit in Their Soup

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waiterIn the patient empowerment corner of my world, a complaint or fear I hear voiced by patients is the fear of retaliation.  They are afraid that if they speak up to their doctors, or ask questions, or make their own decisions, then they will get substandard care. The provider will be so upset, he or she won’t provide what the patient really needs.

I call this The Waiter Will Spit In My Soup Syndrome.

I’ve never had a conversation with someone who can identify a time this actually happened to them – where they got care that wasn’t up to par because they advocated for themselves. But I have heard from people who were dismissed by their doctors (I call that a provider divorce). I’ve even heard from people who were blackballed or blacklisted by providers. That makes it a question of quality of care – or a total rejection of care.

And the truth is – it doesn’t matter why a patient is fearful of sticking up for himself. It’s his perception. It’s wrong. And something needs to change.

YOU can be the change agent. YOU can be that buffer – the person who runs interference between the patient’s fear of retaliation and making sure she gets exactly what she needs.

I know – you’re probably saying, “Well – duh! Of course! That’s what we do!”

But I’m going to take this concept to a different level. Continue Reading →


Remember Cat’s Cradle? How to Use It to Build Your Advocacy Practice

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Just back at my desk after the last of this Fall’s (2013) three APHA workshops, this one held in Los Angeles – another great experience meeting so many passionate, inspirational advocates and soon-to-be advocates….

As those who took the marketing workshop learned – one of the most important things we should do is to measure the effectiveness and client satisfaction of our work once it’s completed. To accomplish that, after each of the workshops, I surveyed attendees to see what they found most useful and to understand what didn’t work so well, too.

The results:

The answers varied. Many cited as most useful the business workshop’s session on how to price your services using their value as the foundation.  Others mentioned marketing by focusing on benefits instead of services. Some advocates appreciated the more in-depth information about maximizing their web presence. Still others finally understand how to get a client to say “yes” to a contract.

But there was one element that was mentioned most often among almost 150 surveys. Continue Reading →

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