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Coloring Outside the Lines

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Coloring Outside the Lines

When people ask you what you do for a living, what do you – as an independent health / patient advocate, or care manager — reply to them? It would be simple to say “I am an advocate” which, then, may require further explanation. That further explanation would likely include examples of the kinds of work you do (I attend doctor appointments with seniors. Or, I manage medical bills and negotiate them when they are too high. Or I help people figure out what their own choices are for treatments… or…. ) That further explanation is always valuable, especially if the person asks you additional questions – meaning you have engaged them. And they often do!  They also tend to launch into stories on their own, beginning with “Where were you when….?” and then relate some horrible situation they or their loved one found themselves in. At that point you know they understand. But this week, during a conversation with a gentleman who wants to jump into “our” world, I found myself telling him… What advocates are more often called to do is to color outside the lines to get their clients what they need. And a phrase was born – a phrase all independent advocates can use in a variety of situations, as follows: “What is the difference between what you do, and what I can get from the patient advocate in the hospital?” Hospital patient advocates are required to follow the hospital’s rules. They work for the hospital. Their allegiance is to the hospital. But sometimes what patients need doesn’t fit inside specific rules. So as an independent advocate, what I do is get you what you need in whatever way it needs to be done. I have the ability, and the liberty, to color outside the lines if necessary. “Why can’t I just advocate for myself? Why do I need to hire someone to do it for me?” You don’t have to hire someone! Of course you can advocate for yourself! But do you know the specific aspects of healthcare where you can apply the pressure that…


 

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