Aug 25 2014

Happy Birthday to Us! AdvoConnection Turns 5

birthdaypeopleDateline:  September 1, 2009
The AdvoConnection membership organization was launched on this date in an effort to find people who could help patients navigate their medical journeys.

Happy Birthday to Us!  (Yes – “us” – because the AdvoConnection Membership Organization was the original name of Alliance of Professional Health Advocates!)

My how times have changed!  (And yet, they haven’t changed much at all… )

The original site was only intended to be a directory – sort of Match.com for patients and advocates – and 30 people stepped forward to be included. (We had been collecting email addresses of interested parties since early 2007.) Many are still members of the organization today – charter members! – meaning they have been successfully providing services to patients for at least five years. (I hope that gives some of you newer folks some hope :-) )

My how healthcare times have changed too! (And yet, they haven’t changed much at all… )  I remember that when we launched, some pundits thought we would be no more than a short-term solution… After all, healthcare reform was approved just a few months later. That was going to fix the system! 

But of course, it not only didn’t fix the system, but if anything, it only makes what our members do even more important than ever before.

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Aug 18 2014

You’re Not Charging Enough, and It’s Hurting Our Entire Profession

cycloneproject

  • What is it worth to find someone who can save your life?
  • What is it worth to find someone who can provide quality to a life that has little or no quality because of health problems?
  • What is it worth to find someone who can save you tens of thousands of dollars, or to prevent you from going bankrupt?
  • What is it worth to find someone who can alleviate your fear, and provide peace of mind?

……………..

I can tell you what it’s worth based on what I read in the press, in the APHA Forum, in my email and based on feedback from many of you:

On the high end, it’s worth about $350 an hour.

But on the low end, every day, many of you behave as if it’s worth is $0. Nothing. Zero. Nada. Zip. 

And in most cases, you don’t realize that is what you are doing.

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Aug 11 2014

The One Thing That Will Cause Your Private Advocacy Practice to Fail

moneytree
Here are samples of some inquiries I have received from people wanting to be advocates. See if you can guess what they all have in common:

I want to help Medicaid patients find doctors who will take their insurance.

We plan to help children with mental health issues find the help they need.

I want to help young girls who find themselves pregnant find the social services they need to get them through their pregnancies.

I want to work with churches and senior centers to help their members and attendees understand their medical care.

I want to help lymphoma patients with shared decision-making about their treatment.

I want to help children in _____ County who have neurological disorders. (The county named is in a poor, rural part of a southern state.)

One thing they have in common is that everyone of them has a noble and worthwhile mission. They have developed missions that come from each inquirer’s heart.  There is no doubt there will be people who need them and who they can help.

But that one thing they have in common is also the one thing that will cause them to fail in private practice, too.

How so?

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Aug 04 2014

The One Thing You Must Do to Grow Your Advocacy Practice (and Take a Vacation, too)

workingbythepoolThe answer to this notion of “the one thing you must do” boils down to trust, although maybe not in the way you’ll expect…

I say this to you, with the keen awareness of the fact that trusting isn’t something I do well.  Having spent the first half of my life as Pollyanna reincarnated, then having been burned by too many people I DID trust along the way, including an ex-husband, an ex-business partner, and the notorious reason for all this empowerment and advocacy work of mine – the doctors who I trusted to help me whether my mysterious odyssey in 2004 - I hope you’ll understand that trusting isn’t exactly my long suit. Pollyanna, as represented by Trisha Torrey, long ago left the building.

So, whereas in the first half of my life, when anyone I met was trusted by default, that’s far from true in these past few decades. It is a huge struggle for me to trust anyone enough to relinquish any sort of control I have over important, personal situations. I can count the people I do trust with those situations on one hand.

That means this post, about the one thing you need to do to grow your practice (and take a vacation) is a bit like the pot (me) calling many of you kettles, black. Yes, I know this advice will be a tough pill for some to swallow, and I truly do understand that many of us need (what amounts to) a 12-step program to make it happen.

So what is that one thing?

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Jul 21 2014

Mentors and SIGs – Our Best Resources Yet

tshirtWhen APHA and AdvoConnection were launched in 2009, the resources that existed for starting and growing a private, independent advocacy practice were few and far between.

There weren’t many advocacy experts, because with only a few exceptions, there just weren’t many people with the track record to call themselves experts. Certainly there were experts in different useful topics; for example lawyers or insurance people who could take what they knew and apply it to advocacy. So we took advantage of those experts’ good graces to build the first foundations for practices going forward. We still rely on them, and appreciate their help, today.

Now fast forward to today.

These 5 years later we have dozens of experts in almost every aspect of starting and growing an advocacy practice, in the advocacy work itself, in patient education, and more… Early adopters who have ‘been there, done that” – and would be happy to show off their T-shirts. Real advocates. Real success stories!  Even among those who haven’t launched their practices yet, we have almost every topic imaginable represented among our APHA members – people who can speak to the expertise they have brought to advocacy, and what they have learned along the way.

Now we’ve made it easier for you to find them – and for them to help you.

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Jul 14 2014

The Real Cost of Selling One’s Soul

 

I heard from a friend that he recently sold his start-up business after years of building it to do just that.

Wow!  I was so impressed!  “Take a break!” I replied. “I can only imagine how much work that was and how much money you must have made!”

Yes, he told me. It was a LOT of work and he is exhausted. But, he confided, he really didn’t make much money in the sale.

What?? I was flabbergasted… Then I learned why. It seems that he and his partners, in order to raise the money they needed to make their business so enticing and salable, had given away most of the company to investors – first angels, then later venture capitalists – so that by the time they sold it and all those investors took their chunks of the profit, there was little left for the original idea guys who had started the venture. (ouch!)

It got me to thinking.

Over the years, I have been approached by businesses that want to “support”my work. The first time it was a pharmaceutical company that wanted to pay me to speak to patients diagnosed with the diseases their drugs treated, teaching those patients about empowerment principles, and (oh, by the way) about the great work their company was doing. The offer came very early in my patient empowerment career and I was really hurting for income. I was so hurting that I didn’t know if I could keep doing the work I wanted so badly to do! Their offer was extremely tempting. I gave it some serious thought…

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Jul 07 2014

Turning Adversity into Proactive Survivorship

upsetwomanIt’s been a tough week. From the initial blow, I’ve been a poster child for Kubler Ross’s five stages of grief. At this point I’m probably mid-way between depression and acceptance.

If you are a subscriber to my patient empowerment newsletter (not our APHA Monday Mail, rather, my Every Patient’s Advocate one) – then you have already heard my news – I sent out a heads up last Thursday just before my About.com newsletter went out. (If you aren’t a subscriber, why not? ;-) Here’s a link. )

The news is that after almost 7 years and 2000+ articles, out of the blue, with no warning, I was terminated from About.com. The only reason given was that it was a “business decision.” I’ve had my say on that at my personal blog.  You can find details here if you’re curious.

To say I was stunned is a major understatement. Shocked, upset, angry, frustrated – that’s a start. It’s a blow to my ego, a hit to my income, and a blindside to those people for whom I have written, and provided advice and resources for all these years. The feelings have been very similar to those I felt when I was diagnosed with cancer.

Ironically, it happened on June 30 which was 10 years to the day my cancer misdiagnosis journey began – the journey that set me on the path to patient empowerment, later advocacy, working and interfacing with all of you.

That journey has made me a proactive survivor.

What? You’ve never heard of a proactive survivor?

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Jun 30 2014

Henry Ford, Mary Kay, Success and Patient Advocates

180782595It’s a holiday week, a quieter time for many businesses, and for that I hope to leave you with some food for thought to ponder your success as an advocacy practice owner…

One of my favorite quotes is one that has been attributed to two well-known people.  Henry Ford said it first:

If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.

Then Mary Kay Ash (as in cosmetics) put it more eloquently:

If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, you’re right.

Of course, the translation of both is that our ability to accomplish what we want to accomplish is all in our heads, in our attitudes. It’s less about ability and more not letting anyone – mostly ourselves! – convince us that we aren’t good enough.

The problem is – how many of us have those voices in our heads that tell us that we are “less” than what it will take to succeed? How many of us let our heads stand in the way of our success?  I know it happens frequently. In the past when I have written about the Paralysis of Analysis, I have heard from many of you, asking if I have been reading your minds.

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