Watching the Headlines for Opportunities

A link on Twitter precipitated today’s post and idea for you. It contains a challenge, too! See below.

The tweet linked to a news article: A second set of eyes cuts errors at HCMC. It tells about an initiative at Hennepin County Medical Center (Minneapolis) that cut the medication errors found in patients’ discharge paperwork from 92 percent – to zero. 0. Nada. No medication errors. Impressive.

Now, if you or your patient-client happens to be discharged from Hennepin County Medical Center, that’s great news.

But the article got me wondering – what about the other 99.999 percent of discharged hospital patients in the world? How many other hospitals have such horrendously dangerous medication error rates in the discharge paperwork given to their departing patients?

And then an a-ha moment… what a great service for health and patient advocates to offer! A review of discharge instructions, including confirmation of any drugs that have been prescribed. Further – a great point to make in any talks given for marketing purposes, and a good point to raise with potential clients or their caregivers.

When we pay attention to the headlines, we may find a wealth of ideas to use in our patient and health advocacy practices. The reason they are headlines to begin with is because the headline writer created them because they would be of interest to readers – and their readers are our potential clients or client influencers, too.

So that’s the key – paying attention, then using those headlines that make sense in our work. We can speak about them, blog about them, print them or link to them so our target audiences are aware of them and know we provide solutions.

Here are two more examples: Fierce Healthcare reports that the AMA is calling for hospitals to enhance care by improving their relationships with patient navigators. If you are getting ready to call on a hospital, or if you need permission to visit your client in a hospital, why not print this article and take it with you to show that the world of advocates and navigators is making positive inroads in the care of their patients?

Becker’s Review listed 10 Ways to Improve Profitability for Pain Management. Included in the list is the suggestion that pain management doctors hire a physician liaison, a salesperson – someone to go around to primary care doctors to sell those pain management doctors’ services.

But let’s massage that idea…. what if you called on doctors you respect (not just pain doctors – all doctors) and talked about some ways to help each other? You want them to know about your services as an advocate so they might refer their patients to you. But you can also tell them that you’d like to keep them on your list of potential recommendations to your clients. (A caveat here – we advocates don’t ever recommend specific doctors, but we do give our client-patients lists of doctors to choose from. There’s no reason why any given doctor you meet with can’t be on a short list.)

So that’s how it works, and why it’s important that we health and patient advocates watch the headlines for opportunities.

Here’s your challenge…. find a headline that sparks an idea you can use in your practice, then share the headline and your idea in the APHA Forum. Need help finding headlines? Here’s how to set up news alerts so they’ll be delivered to your email inbox.




1 thought on “Watching the Headlines for Opportunities”

  1. Excellent, Tricia! As an RN Patient Advocate, this is something I do with all clients, regardless of how long they’ve been on the medication. Errors, in addition to horrible drug interactions, can be responsible for their current ill health. I had an Alzheimer’s client that recently passed away after having a 6 month history of 1-2 falls/month. She was moved here from out of state, I found an excellent geriatrician for her, and we began the process of removing 4 of the 15 meds that were obviously contributing to the falls. She went from an emaciated, frail woman to someone with quality of life, 20 lbs. heavier, and no major falls 1 1/2 years later! It truly needs to be a collaborative effort, and patient advocates offer so much!

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