“You’re a WHAT? And you do WHAT?”
It’s a typical a response from physicians who haven’t scanned the forest of health care lately to see there’s a new animal in their midst. That animal goes by the general name of “health care advocate” and the specific name of Health Champion. Our general nature is to help, guide and support individuals lost in the maze of decisions, diagnosis and insurance benefits.
Here’s an example —
The Call: We were recently retained by a family to help navigate their sister’s s journey through multiple myeloma. They called as she was recovering from surgery, having experienced the disease’s wrath in the form of bony metastases.
The Need: On a very basic level, they were seeking clarity about their sister’s condition, needing a greater understanding from the surgeon and oncologist regarding prognosis and overall treatment plan.
The Approach: We quickly established contact with their sister’s medical providers, providing each office with signed HIPAA and Representative forms, so that physicians could speak freely with us. The goal was to collect information from the various sources and then connect the dots for our client, explaining complicated information in a clear, accessible manner.
The Result: Our client and her family felt fully informed and, thereby, empowered to make smart decisions regarding the recommended treatment plan.
The Response: Because we’re newcomers, medical colleagues are often surprised by our presence. Who are we . . .where did we come from . . . what’s our intention? But, seeing that we come in peace, they’re collaborative, professional and open to the concept of advocacy. And then there are those few defensive physicians, wary of our intentions, certain our goal is to undermine and undercut, to add an unneeded layer to an already complex system. That is so not so!
They’re right about one thing: The health care system is definitely layered and complex. It’s fragmented, confusing and overwhelming. It isn’t easy being a physician in today’s insurance-based model. And it’s not easy being a patient or consumer. That’s exactly why we exist.
Our role is to support our clients and their health care team by closing gaps in communication and planning, by explaining and reinforcing the difficult messages they have may have been told, but didn’t understand, and were too embarrassed to ask for clarification.
While health care reform may be upon us, it isn’t going to fix the very things that health care advocates are hired to do. We’re on the scene, and we’re here to stay.