High Tech, Scalability and the Human Role of Health Advocates

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High Tech, Scalability and the Human Role of Health Advocates

One aspect of healthcare that not enough people understand is about the role of technology for providing medical services: how it should be used, when it should be used, and why it should be used. That disconnect in understanding creates a huge gap in the healthcare continuum that we patient advocates fill – immediately understood, instantly appreciated, and more than worth whatever a client will pay for it. Put simply:  tools can’t provide the hugs and reassurance that individuals crave, and need for survival. Consider: There is a huge difference between directly providing care coordination, and using technology to do so. Directly providing care means face-to-face, sit across from, look into the eyes of, one-on-one handholding. Technology, in the form of telephones, the web, skype, IMs, online medical records, apps, the cloud, or any other digital or non-human format — is just a tool. Tools are not providers and… Providers are not tools. Both are necessary, useful and appropriate when used correctly. For example: If I am simply looking up information about my symptoms online, then all I need is tools – a computer, and access to the internet.  I’m not looking (at that point) for a human being to help me. In fact, I’d probably prefer to be left alone with my tools. My interest is in obtaining information, to fulfill an intellectual need. But if I’ve just been diagnosed with something difficult, or I’ve received an overwhelmingly huge hospital bill in which I see obvious errors, then a tool isn’t what I want – I want a human being to explain things and fix things for me.  Even if my expectations are unrealistic – it’s a human being I must connect with to move forward. My interest is in obtaining reassurance, reducing my feelings of vulnerability, maybe curtailing my fear, fulfilling an emotional need. This point came up recently in three separate conversations with people who really just do NOT get it. All three are in the process of building online tools for one audience or another, all relating in some way to advocacy, all talking about “scalability.”…

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