MORE Magazine Article – Blessings and Missed Opportunities

One of our AdvoConnection members, Elisabeth Russell, is featured in the March issue of MORE Magazine. The story of her journey toward becoming a patient navigator is worth reading. I dare you not to choke up when you read about her daughter’s diagnosis and treatment results. A true blessing – and very well written. (Thank you MORE Magazine!) But there were some real mistakes in the sidebar information – and they need to be pointed out. Potential patient advocates and navigators can get the wrong picture from what’s there. At this point in our growth as a career, it’s important …

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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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Patients’ Advocates in Hospitals – Going to the Line

Updated March 2017 From time to time I hear from a patient who complains about a situation that occurred during a hospital stay – usually the spouse or child of a hospital patient. The great majority of those notes say, “I spoke to the patient advocate in the hospital but they couldn’t do anything for me!” When I reply, I explain that the hospital patient advocate works for the hospital – not for the patient. Hospital patient advocates usually report to the legal/risk management department in the hospital and get their paychecks from the hospital. They help when they can, …

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