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They’re Not Us. We’re Not Them. The Difference Is Defined by Consequences.
Those of us who stay on top of patient advocacy-related news got a jolt from this headline, “Patient Advocacy Groups Rake In Donations From Pharma.” Just the jolt itself suggests that a few clarifications need to be made about our work as independent, private patient advocates. This is a topic I have written about several times in the past, but because it has big ripple effects, and because some of the people you connect with may be confused, you’ll need to clarify for them, so it bears repeating. It’s about allegiance. And it’s classified in the same sphere of conversations and objections as these: But the hospital has a patient advocate and I can talk to her for free. So why should I pay you? I got a flyer in the mail from my insurance company and they offered a patient advocate to help me for free! So why should I pay you? Anyone who has begun marketing a private advocacy practice has heard these sorts of objections. Like all roadblocks found in the healthcare system, I’m going to suggest you walk through the right answers with them, because it applies in all cases. This is the way to overcome their objections. You Get What You Pay For The hospital advocate’s allegiance is to…. the hospital. That’s who pays her. While there may be many things she can accomplish for a patient or caregiver, at the end of the day, her real job is to keep the hospital out of hot water. In most cases (95+%) she works for the Risk Management (legal) department of the hospital, and her hospital allegiance will only allow her to go so far to help a patient or caregiver. So ask, “What are the consequences of tapping into the hospital-paid advocate?” An independent, private advocate has no such constraints. Fairly new on the landscape is the insurance company employed advocate – the one on the other end of the phone (“Ask a nurse!”). And yes, that’s who pays her. But remember, the goal of the insurance company is to make as much money as…