When Life Defies Logic

…then it’s time to get logical. And logic will triumph!

As many readers know, I’m in the process of coordinating our APHA Summits. We had our first Summit adventure in San Diego a few weeks ago. What a delight! We all learned so much from each other! Next up… Newark / NYC, then on to Chicago, and two new groups of passionate advocates. (I can’t wait!)

What few people understand is the amount of preparation required to make these Summits happen. It’s not so simple as everyone showing up in the same place at the same time to connect with each other. Planning actually begins many months in advance when cities and venues are chosen, initial contracts are signed, the website and registration are set up… much to prepare.

Then in the last few weeks prior to each event, the actual choices are made for room set-ups (round tables? classroom style?), food choices (vegetarian? gluten-free? nut allergies?), and AV needs (are we doing powerpoint? do we need a projector, screen, or wifi?)

Of course, each choice comes with a price tag. Hotel price tags vary. And sometimes, those price tags defy logic. And I mean DEFY LOGIC!

Which is one reason I say – when life defies logic, it’s time to get logical. As follows:

Making food choices usually gets to me. While doing so for our Summits coming up in Newark this week, that was no different. For example, it’s great to have some sort of afternoon snack during the networking event. There are many choices to make, some more outrageous than others. $42 for a dozen cookies. $4 each for bottled water or soft drinks. Those kinds of things. But because the initial contracts all force us to agree that we won’t bring in our own food or beverages, there’s really little choice.

Next up – AV decisions, and THE major logic-defier. I will say, that in many years of planning APHA events, this one just totally blew me away, as if we lived in some alternate universe.

Years ago I purchased a projector to schlep with me to each event because I refused to pay the daily rental of (usually) $350 or more (yes, DAILY). I actually understand why that rental is so high. Good projectors are high-value items, and replacement for one of the bulbs can cost hundreds of dollars.

However, because of its size, and with no expensive parts to worry about, I have always rented the screen needed for use with the projector. Pricing usually ranges from from $75 to $125 a day. That’s still very expensive, but manageable, and easier.

But this week, in working with the hotel staff to prepare for the Newark events, I requested pricing for a screen, only to receive an estimate from their AV vendor for… (drum roll please)… $968.37! Yes – you read that right. Two days of using a screen for almost a thousand dollars.


I thought it was a mistake, so I immediately called my contact at the hotel. No, I was told, that’s correct. It included the fact that someone was going to set it up for me. That’s what they charge.

I was beyond stunned. I protested loudly, only to be told that “We have a lot of pharmaceutical companies that hold events here, and they don’t even blink!” (Well of course they don’t – which may partially explain why they charge such outrageous prices for drugs, and can afford to pay the president’s lawyer for advice!)

It wasn’t until I asked my contact, “Stop to think for a minute…. what would $968.37 buy for your family?”… that she paused, and told me she could see my point. I told her I would not be contracting for a screen because it just made NO sense. It wasn’t logical.

… so I have now purchased a brand new screen, to be delivered to the hotel, for a total of $106.77 (including tax).

VERY logical. Even if I just leave the screen behind, we come out way ahead.

Of course, there is a huge lesson here about the use of logic for health and patient advocates. No, not about saving money on events; rather about how we navigate and negotiate for our clients, or how we conduct our business.

  • Logic: as in, the answer to the question about whether there is reimbursement for independent advocates.
  • Logic: as in, when we know that doctors are paid based on the number of patients they see in one day (not the amount of time they spend), and the number of tests they order or procedures they do, an advocate must always help her client understand alternatives and options.
  • Logic: as in, when we know the rate of misdiagnosis may be as high as 44%, making sure a client always gets at least a second opinion.
  • Logic: as in, when a client has a huge insurance deductible and needs a CT scan, helping him/her choose to have it done at a freestanding imaging center for $400 instead of at the hospital for $1200.
  • Logic: as in, attending an appointment with a client and arguing with his/her doctor, as opposed to asking questions and opinions. In which case do you think your client will get better information from the doctor?
  • Logic: as in, why should any hospital patient be charged 3 or 4 times for an MRI on his bill when only one was performed?

Or even…

  • Logic: as in, if you don’t market your services, no one will know to hire you to be their advocate.
  • Logic: as in, if you don’t discuss money, and ask for your money up front, then clients may not pay you for your services.
  • Logic: as in, if a client has a choice between hiring an advocate who is not board certified – vs – hiring one who is board certified, which one do you think that client will choose?
  • Logic: as in, if you don’t put effort into the business of being an advocate, like legal, financial, or marketing, then you will not succeed.

Developing a successful advocacy practice demands logical choices, as outlined above.

I don’t doubt for a second that anyone who has read this post, and saw that sum of money – for the use of a screen! – was just as taken aback as I was. And yet, too many of you reading this post will choose to pass over the list of “Logic: as ins” that follows the screen story, especially the ones about conducting business.

Sadly, you’ll ignore that advice at your practice peril. And THAT defies logic.


2 thoughts on “When Life Defies Logic”

  1. My first thought when you mentioned you purchased your own screen, obviously the logical solution, was are they going to charge you for someone to put it up? Just as in our practice we can never assume anything. I would call to ask. Especially since according to the hotel contact explained the charge included them setting the screen up. Call me cynical, but I would call.

    1. Great question, Sandy. And your point about never assuming anything is spot on.

      Yes – I asked about any service fees imposed if I did my own set-up – and take down, too. I’m told there are none. I also checked the contract.

      (I’m cynical about these things, too. It’s always about “follow the money.”)

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