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Enemies? No, But With an Important Distinction
A recent email exchange with an APHA member highlighted a point we don’t make often enough, and one you need to embrace so you can discuss it with potential clients. The problem is – she used it to leap to an errant conclusion, one that demands clarity. In her email, she mentioned that she was considering joining a different professional organization, one that focuses on hospital advocacy, teaching hospital advocates how to do their jobs. She stated that the other organization “has multiple affiliations with those purported enemies of true patient advocacy, patient relations departments.” What? I was so taken aback! Enemies? How on earth would anyone construe that hospital patient relations personnel are enemies of private patient advocates? Let me be clear. THEY ARE NOT. Not even close. Those words should never be in the same sentence. But somehow she had drawn that conclusion, causing me to examine why she had done so. And while I can’t explain the leap she took, I did identify the genesis of her idea, confirmed by subsequent email exchanges, as follows: The Allegiance Factor The Allegiance Factor is the explanation for why a patient may not get the answers or satisfaction he or she needs from a hospital or insurance company patient advocate. It’s the fact that since hospital or insurance company advocates derive their paychecks from one of those organizations, their allegiance must be to their employer. It’s a job expectation – their jobs are to help patients to the point where it can be helpful to that patient and the hospital or insurer but not impinge negatively on the interests of their employer. That doesn’t make these advocates the enemy. That simply ties their hands behind their backs. If they go beyond a certain line to help a patient, they risk losing their jobs. Private, independent advocates have no such constraints. Their allegiance is to the source of their paychecks, too – their patient-clients (or someone acting on that client’s behalf like an adult child, or parent, or even an employer.) There is no profit-impinging line they can’t cross for their…