Nov 24 2014

Gallimaufry: Your Questions, Some Answers, Media and Just Stuff

 

gallimaufryLast summer I came upon this great word – a word I had never heard before, but which can be used in so many aspects of conversation and life!  The word is “gallimaufry.”  It means a hodgepodge, a jumble, or confused medley of things – items, ideas, anything at all.

It’s a great word for an advocacy entrepreneur!  It describes the many ideas that come together to define challenges and create solutions, or the many activities it takes to achieve success, or even the creative approaches it takes to help our clients, or help each other.  I’ve even adopted the word for one section of my private blog.

And – it describes today’s post, which is a gallimaufry of information for you, inspired by a number of things:  current APHA activities, last week’s survey which asks you to help us determine topics and locations for our 2015 APHA advocacy business workshops, the time of year, current events – yes, a real hodgepodge, jumble or confused medley.  (Why not?)

So here you go – today’s gallimaufry:

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Nov 17 2014

Common Courtesy and Who Owes What?

Hysterical brunette talking with two telephone receiversIt was a desperate plea from a young women (we’ll call her Bethany) with a real problem:

Bethany had been through several years of infusion treatment for services rendered outside of her network, beginning while she was still a teenager. Her insurance company covered the service (because it wasn’t available at all within her network). So insurance had paid Bethany’s mother for each claim, and then her mother paid the infusion provider. The problem was that, over the years, the mother had paid less than the total amount due – and then she passed away.  The infusion company got in touch with Bethany and insisted on a lump sum payment for the balance of well over $100,000, payable within five days or they would take her to court.

Desperate (Who wouldn’t be? Could you come up with an unexpected $100,000+ within five days?) Bethany began trying to find help. She found a few advocates online and phoned them.  One advocate recommended Bethany get in touch with me. Of course, I don’t do advocacy work myself, so the only recommendation I could make was that Bethany connect with additional advocates through the AdvoConnection Directory….  I didn’t hear anything more until…..

A few days later, I heard from one of our members who Bethany ultimately contacted – the one who took Bethany’s case, negotiated it and got it straightened out for her. But the advocate was stunned and frustrated by something Bethany told her, so she forwarded that frustration on to me.

That is….

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Nov 03 2014

The Best 3 Minutes and 16 Seconds You’ll Spend Today, This Week, Month or Year

mikiagrawalOne of our APHA members* forwarded this video link to me, interested in the idea posed about starting one’s practice before it is perfect.

So I watched it…  And watching it was perhaps the best 3 minutes and 16 seconds I have spent on business motivation in a very long time. So I ask you, too, to spend your next few minutes viewing it – then come back here for a few comments….

Standing Out in a Noisy World

<tap> <tap> <tap> <waiting for everyone to come back to this post….> <tap> <tap> <tap>

OK – so in those few minutes I heard a very young and clearly experienced and knowledgeable Miki Agrawal** sum up the mental approaches and attitudes it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.  (I am truly impressed!)

Her suggestions, and her approach, are spot on for those who think they want to start and grow a patient advocacy business! I’ll provide some highlights here because they are so valuable.

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Oct 27 2014

The Best Way to Find New Clients

womanbooks… Isn’t by osmosis.

An email arrived this week – one that is representative of dozens, maybe hundreds of others just like it I’ve received in the past few years.  It asks “why can’t I find any clients?”  It represents others that have asked that same question, or similar, like “how can I market my business? or “how can I get my first client?” or “what am I doing wrong?”

I receive these frustration emails 2, 3, 9, 10 times a month.  Frustrated not-quite-advocates who want to start and grow a health advocacy practice…

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Oct 20 2014

Monetizing, Scaling – Making Smart Choices Affects Your Advocacy Practice and Income

businessgrowth

An email this week comes from one of our APHA members, who I will call Bernice, who reminds me of how easy it is to lose sight of what is important to us when it comes to building our advocacy practices.

Bernice is in the process of entering a business plan competition which, if she wins, will provide her with a $10,000 grant to help her grow her practice.

Her concern is, that in order to win the money, she is going to have to write a business plan that’s about “going big.”  From her email to me:

“We have retired execs who are mentors, and they
just don’t see how I’m going to go “big” with this business.”

So she wanted to know if I have suggestions for how to build that in.

“So, as I push forward to make this a “winning” business plan entry, what do you see as the most viable way to monetize our businesses to take it up several notches?”

A few important points for all of us to consider:

Bernice is asking about two aspects of growing a business:  monetizing and scaling. Monetizing simply means finding more ways to maximize the income from the work she is doing. Scaling refers to the growth of a business – more products or services, more employees, more customers and of course, bigger income to support all of that (and hopefully more profitability too.)

To which I say… whoa!  Wait a minute!  Who says any of that is important?

Now, at first I expect you’re reading those words and laughing. Of course they are important! (you’re thinking.)  Who doesn’t want their business to make more money and to grow bigger?

To which I will respond…  Making more money? Of course.  But growing bigger?  Maybe you DO and maybe you DON’T.

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Oct 13 2014

Health Advocacy Ethics – Conflict of Interest? Or Important Service?

elderlywomanA recent conversation with a handful of knowledgeable people, people I respect a great deal, yielded two different outcomes – either a loud “yes, of course!!” or a loud “no, no way!”

So I want to know what YOU think.

As a prelude to the story – the question I will ask you at the end is:

Should Gwen become Mrs. Smith’s healthcare proxy?
Can she ETHICALLY make that shift?

(We are not asking a legal question here – only a question of ethics.)

Mrs. Smith is 90 years old and until recently was quite healthy.  She is alone; her husband died many years ago, and they never had any children. She has a few nieces and nephews, but hasn’t seen or heard from any of them in years.  She lives in the country and has no neighbors nearby.  Even her close friends from church have all passed away.

Gwen has been Mrs. Smith’s health advocate for several years now, accompanying Mrs. Smith to doctor’s appointments, lab tests, and whatever was needed for her care. About three years ago, Mrs. Smith was hospitalized for a brief time;  Gwen sat by her bedside and was a liaison between the hospital staff and Gwen for the duration.

Over these years they have become very close. Mrs. Smith trusts and values Gwen’s opinions more than anyone else on earth and thinks of her almost as the daughter she never had.

Now Mrs. Smith has asked Gwen to help her make the healthcare decisions that she will designate in her advance directives.  Included is a request to Gwen to become her proxy – that is, the person who will, if Mrs. Smith becomes incapacitated, make any decisions that regard end-of-life care on Mrs. Smith’s behalf. (“Proxy” is one term used – others could be agent, representative or power of attorney.)

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Oct 06 2014

Ripped from the Headlines…. a Warning for Health Advocates, Too

commonsenseA kidnapping and murder last weekend raises questions for all professionals who work one-on-one with strangers….

If it can happen to a real estate agent, it can happen to a health advocate, too.

I’m referring to the headlines about Beverly Carter in Little Rock, Arkansas.  She was a real estate agent who had gotten a call from a stranger to show a home she had listed for sale.  And then she disappeared.  Her body was found several days later in a shallow grave.

See that second sentence?  “She was a real estate agent who had gotten a call from a stranger to show a home she had listed for sale.”  It could just as easily have said, “She was a patient advocate who had gotten a call from a stranger to discuss the problems he was having with his medical care (or medical bills.)

Like real estate agents, the nature of the work we do is to help strangers.  In fact, if we don’t help strangers, then we won’t stay in business for long – it’s not a choice, it’s a necessity.

Common sense should tell us never to just show up at a stranger’s home – and yet, I have no doubt that many of you reading this post have done just that.

And as you read this post, you are thinking, “well, sure, but….. ”

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Sep 29 2014

Cruel to Be Kind and Kind to be Cruel

cruelI received an email from a woman named Irma. She wants to become a health advocate, to assist people in her community who have Alzheimers. (Bless her for that.)  But she was laid off from her job, and doesn’t have any money. She asked me if I would let her join Alliance of Professional Health Advocates for free so she could “learn how to do it.”

Irma’s request was not the first I’ve received over the years.  I am also asked to give people free copies of my books, and even loan or donate money to help them get started with their practices.

In the early years of building this patient advocacy profession, I used to struggle over the answers to these requests.  Should I support these folks to help them get started when they didn’t have the means to do it themselves?  If I said “yes” – would that really help them?  If I said “no” – would I be hurting them, and would I feel guilty?  How much did I owe to the profession to build a strong foundation?  How much did I owe compassionate people who want to help others?  How could I even determine which answer served the requester, the profession, the organization, or me the best? Would one answer serve them all?

It took a lot of soul searching…..

And ultimately I came to one conclusion, one point of view that helps me answer them all.

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