decision making

Patient Advocacy and the Allegiance Factor

As we prepare for Private Professional Patient Advocates Week next week, I’ve been asked by a handful of people what the difference is between a private patient advocate and any other health advocate. It’s an important question, and the answer is actually quite simple. The difference between a private patient advocate or navigator, and those found in hospitals, through insurance companies, or other places, is what I call The Advocate’s Allegiance Factor. It’s based on who is producing the paycheck. Private patient advocates are paid directly by the patient or the patient’s caregiver and have only one allegiance – to …

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Who Deserves a Patient Advocate’s Help?

I’ve wrestled with this question more than once. It’s the question raised on occasion by those who talk about universal healthcare, and a for-profit healthcare system. It’s a question asked by those who are concerned that not everyone in the United States has access to healthcare. It’s asked by almost anyone who asks me what I do for a living. The question is, “Doesn’t providing private patient advocacy services only to those who can afford them, just create one more division between the “haves” and the “have nots?” Lots of soul searching, and more than a few conversations have produced …

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Can a True Patient Advocate Be Paid by Someone Else?

Several questions have come my way recently about what kinds of job opportunities might exist for patient advocates. I refer people to an article I’ve written elsewhere, but the real answer is – to be a true advocate, you must analyze who is paying for your services, and what your responsibility will be to them. Finding an Employer In 2011, most of the job possibilities for patient advocates are found either with hospitals or insurance companies. Hospitals have, for a long time, employed patient advocates, sometimes called patient representatives, who are tasked with helping patients. And word comes from an …

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Lessons from The Loss of a Patient

Sooner or later, it happens to every patient advocate or navigator who works with patients on the medical aspects of their care (as opposed to other forms of advocacy, like billing or legal advocates). One of “our” patients – someone whose hand we have held, who we have protected from problems in the hospital, who depended on our advocacy expertise as a way to make the rough road through disease and debilitation smoother… A patient we had built a comfortable and friendly relationship with, a patient we invested ourselves and our work in… That patient dies. And we feel like …

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Doctor Recommendations – Do You? Should You?

drunk doctor

I was quite surprised in a conversation recently with an advocate who is not (yet) a member of AdvoConnection. OK. That’s putting it mildly. I was actually stunned. “Why do people feel well served by you?” I asked him. “Because I have a beeline into all the good doctors,” he replied. When I asked him to explain further, he said it was because he knew the best doctors to recommend and which ones to tell patients to avoid. [Pause. Letting that sink in…] In conversations with both long-time advocates, and lawyers, too… and honestly – what makes common sense – …

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Preparing Patients for Primary Care Troubles

Good primary care physicians are becoming harder and harder to find. You may not have noticed it yet, but I predict that a year from now we’ll find it almost impossible to find primary care doctors who are willing to take on new patients – at least any primary care doctor worth seeing won’t be doing so. Smart patients AND their advocates know that today is THE day to be sure they have good relationships established with primary care doctors. Why? Two major reasons: First comes the fact that medical students spend some time in school, then choose their specialty …

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Enough is Enough! Helping Elderly Patients Make Decisions

One of our AdvoConnection members, Ken Schueler, shared a favorite article of his, published in JAMA a couple of years ago, and a good reminder of one of our roles as patient advocates. Written by Dr. Jennifer M. Soyke, it tells about an elderly patient named Lisa who passed away from Genug Syndrome. (Unfortunately, JAMA requires a subscription to read this piece in its entirety, so please forgive paraphrasing here – but I think you’ll get the point…) Never heard of Genug Syndrome? You won’t find it in the medical literature.

APHA Blog : The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates
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