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A Tutor Who Tooted the Flute…

In a conversation with a friend the other day, I was explaining the need for patient advocates (which she got immediately) – and the “tutor tongue-twister” came to mind.  Do you know it?

A tutor who tooted the flute,

Tried to tutor two tooters to toot,

Said the two to the tutor, “It’s tougher to toot, than to tutor two tooters to toot!”

Now – you may wonder what tooting tutors have to do with patient advocacy.  And yes, I’m going to tell you….

When I explain the role and benefits of having a private patient advocate help you when you’re sick (or a loved one is sick), sometimes people don’t understand why they would want to reach into their pockets to pay for someone to help them get the healthcare they deserve.  After all – healthcare has always been free, right?  (Well – free PLUS the cost of premiums PLUS the cost of co-pays PLUS the cost of services not covered, etc….  )

So – my new metaphor is that of a tutor.  If your child is struggling to pass trigonometry, and you know his ability to go to the college he wants to go to (or you want him to go to!) is dependent on whether he will pass trig, then you have the sense that it’s not just about trig – it’s about the quality of the rest of his life.

He goes to public school, which is free, just as healthcare is free. (We pay for schools in our taxes like we, or our employers, pay for healthcare with our policies.)

He has stayed after school for extra help (still doesn’t get it), your sister-in-law the math teacher can’t seem to help him (like many hospital advocates or websites might provide some help), he won’t let you help (caregivers find it so difficult to manage their loved one’s healthcare) – but he still doesn’t understand trigonometry.

So now what?  With his future so dependent on getting past this one, very difficult hurdle…. what are you supposed to do?

You hire a private tutor.  Someone who can work one-on-one with him. Someone who knows some of the inside information needed to get him past the final exam.  Someone whose sole purpose is to make sure your son passes trig – because if his work with your son is successful, then his tutoring business will continue to grow, too…

Someone who will make sure your son has the quality future he deserves, despite the fact that the “system” (meaning, in this case, the school system) just isn’t providing the way your son needs it.  And for that, you will happily pay from your pocket – because it’s that important.

Which is exactly what a private advocate does – provides you or a loved one with the quality future you deserve, making sure you get what you need from a system that is too dysfunctional to provide it.  A private patient advocate is only interested in making sure YOUR interface with the system works well, that you get exactly what you need, whether what you need is the right diagnosis, the right tests, the right treatment – or even medical bills that are no more than they should be, or must be.

… A patient or health advocate will help you navigate the health care system to get the quality future you deserve, despite the fact that the “system” (meaning, in this care, the healthcare system) just doesn’t provide you with the real help you need.

And more…. there are dozens of ways a patient advocate can assist you.

This week is Private Professional Patient Advocate’s Week.  Whether or not you are struggling with your medical care, you will benefit from having a private health or patient advocate to lean on, and to bring you through it.

…making sure you get the quality and quantity of future you or your loved one deserves.

(Now – say that three times fast!)

…MORE…

Find a Patient Advocate to Help You

How to Interview and Choose a Patient Advocate

Why a Private Patient Advocate May Be the Answer for You

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Back in Business….

When last I wrote, I’d been catching up after a whirlwind Fall travel season.  And here I find myself catching up after another crazy six weeks…

I don’t just bow out completely, even if it seems so.  I’m blogging in other places, like About.com and the AdvoConnection blog, plus I have been promoting my new marketing book, and building three new websites that haven’t even made a debut yet!

So it occurred to me that that’s what I should be doing here at the Every Patient’s Advocate blog is keeping track of all the activities that help me help you.  And so it shall be.

I think you’ll find I’ve all but stood on my head!

In these past few weeks, among other things:

…….

My new book has come out: The Health Advocate’s Marketing Handbook. It’s written specifically for anyone who works in healthcare in a non-traditional career (anywhere from patients’ advocates to acupuncturists, from massage therapists, to counselors, case managers, navigators and more).  I’ve learned that most of these folks are marvelous practitioners, but aren’t confident about marketing themselves.

If you work in healthcare, helping others improve their health in whatever way – this book can help you – I promise!  Learn more about The Health Advocate’s Marketing Handbook.

I’ve written several new columns for the Syracuse Post Standard and Syracuse.com:

  • An Advocate by Your Side takes a look at private patient advocacy and how hiring a patient advocate can be the smartest move an empowered patient will make.
  • Be a Tattletale!  tells you how to report problems with your healthcare that don’t add up to a lawsuit.
  • Trust Your Gut to Make Medical Decisions talks about the role of intuition in your decision-making.
  • And An Open Letter to Ann Marie Buerkle, My Newly Elected (Republican/Teaparty) Congressional Representative explains why “defund and repeal” Obamacare is the wrong way to go.

Plus I’ve written untold blog posts that have sparked everything from outrage – to big yawns. Among the most inciteful (notice how that word is spelled! – it was intentional):

So you see?  I haven’t left you, my blog reader, out in the cold completely!  I just worked out of (blog)town for awhile.  I’ll be back again next week….

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Where’ve You Been Trisha?

Wish I had a nickel for each of the emails I’ve received from people who have followed this blog of mine…. Where have I been?  It’s a fair question.  It’s been months since I’ve blogged here… because, well, I’ve been doing my Willie Nelson thang… on the road again….

See all those stars on the map?  That’s where I’ve been.

(OK – I didn’t abandon my blogging completely.  I still blog at About.com several times each week, and I blog for patient advocates at the AdvoConnection blog, too…. )

But now I’m finally home to stay for a few weeks and can share with you some of the marvelous places I have visited, and more importantly, the wonderful, dedicated people I have met and learned from!

So many different audiences, so many interests in how patients access, perceive, are helped, and hurt.  From seniors, to medical students, to patient advocates, to providers, to employers, to pharma marketers, to patient activists – 14 different presentations, each one different, and each an opportunity to learn – from those who hoped to learn from me.

Here are a few audience highlights:

Patients:  I love patient audiences.  They have already figured out that they need tools to get better healthcare, so they don’t come to hear me speak unless they are already invested in the information.  They infuse themselves into the conversation – often agreeing with what I have to say, and sometimes disagreeing, too (which is how I learn from them what their hurdles are).  I had several opportunities to speak to groups of patients, on a variety of topics ranging from defensive medicine, to how to stay safe in the hospital, to how healthcare reform will affect us all. I had the privilege of speaking to, and meeting new patient audiences in Syracuse and Liverpool, New York, Sarasota, Florida and San Diego (through a program with Consumer’s Union).

Medical students: I had two opportunities to spend time with health professions students – one of my most important audiences.  If we can get our messages out to these young people while they are in the midst of learning their new skills, we have a better chance of improving our patient experiences.  From the 1 Health Program at the University of Minnesota, which includes not just future doctors, but future nurses, allied health professionals and veterinarians, to the Personalized Medicine 101 course at Upstate Medical – it was a real treat to swap thoughts and ideas with these eager-to-learn young adults.  My thanks to Sue Kostka, RN and Dr. Judith Buchanan at the University of Minnesota, and Dr. Robert West at Upstate for believing in my ability to add to their students’ educations.

Employers:  My first opportunity to share patient empowerment with employers took place in New York City in October.  My point to them was that empowering their employees can improve employee health, confidence, and everyone’s bottom line.  I will be frank that I was disappointed in how the message was received – or wasn’t.  To me it is so obvious.  But I don’t believe I did a good enough job making the case.  Back to that employee drawing board which I realize requires more data – data that isn’t yet easily available, as near as I can tell.

Patient Activists:  Do you like that term?  My most recent adventure — some time in Orlando at the Institute of Healthcare Improvement’s Annual Forum.  The IHI provided scholarships – all expenses paid — to 50 of us who are involved in patient safety initiatives.  An incredible opportunity to meet some of the folks I have been in touch with for years, but have never met.  One of my patient advocate colleagues, Ken Farbstein, suggested it was like going to your class reunion, only this time we were the cool kids.  I’ve written more about this almost overwhelming experience.  We patient activists cannot thank the IHI, in particular CEO Maureen Bisognano and Paul Levy, enough for their recognition of the importance of our work, or their generosity in providing the means to bring us together.

Patients’ Advocates:  OK – I’ll admit it.  Patient advocates are my favorite audience.  I had two opportunities to meet new advocates and talk about this quickly emerging field.  As the proprietor of AdvoConnection for patients and AdvoConnection for advocates, I have a lot to say!  In an ongoing relationship with Michelle Gilmore of Heartwood Health, who holds numerous workshops during the year in Oakland, California plus the NAHAC Conference in Washington, DC where more than 100 advocates convened, it was an incredibly exhilarating experience to be in the presence of these patient advocates and navigators who are dedicated to improving healthcare for individuals, one-on-one.

As you can see, I’ve enjoyed an incredible few months.  As you will experience in the future – I have learned so much more than I imparted during those talks and presentations!

I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned with you over the next weeks and months, in hopes of improving your healthcare experiences, too.

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PS – If you are looking for a health topic speaker for your event, please take a look at my credentials, then give me a call.

O! Fun to be Found in O Magazine

In the five years I’ve been working on patient empowerment and patient advocacy, I’ve been thrilled to have been quoted in the likes of the Wall Street Journal, US News & World Report, Forbes, Fox, NPR, PBS and others…

But now I know I have arrived — because O Magazine came calling!  Sure enough — an article called Someone on Your Side – it’s about hiring a patient advocate to help you through a medical problem. Because I am the founder of AdvoConnection and work extensively with private patient advocates, I am one of the people quoted in the article.

I join three of my distinguished (and very talented!) colleagues.  Hari Khalsa is the Health Whisperer.  One of her patient-clients who was being treated for thyroid cancer just could not get her doctors to coordinate her care.  Hari stepped in to make sure the care was coordinated and Tracy, the patient, got what she needed.

Gail Gazelle is cited in the article, too.  Gail owns a private advocacy business called MDCanHelp.  Gail points out that too often doctors just don’t have the time to devote to care coordination as they should.  Private patient advocates step in to fill the gap.

And Ken Schueler, who has been coordinating care for cancer patients for many years, is quoted, too.  Ken provides some advice for finding good health information online about diseases, clinical trials and more.

The most important information for you?  When you read the article, you’ll realize how important it is you find an advocate to help you.  Although the Patient Advocate Foundation might work for you if you can’t afford an advocate (they handle insurance and  claims issues) — if you need care coordination and help with your medical decisions, then you must give serious consideration to hiring a private patient advocate.

So how do you find these people?  Simple:  a directory of advocates who have been reviewed for their expertise, and work closely with patients like you everyday:  www.AdvoConnection.com.

Private patient advocates provide you with improved health outcomes AND peace of mind.

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