Everywhere we turn, our worlds are being controlled by technology. “There’s an app for that!” we hear.
And, for much of our lives, that’s just fine. I’m OK with an app keeping track of who shows up at my front door, or the choices I make for watching TV, or connections with email or text, or a quick reminder from Alexa on when to put the trash cans out to the street. All useful. All convenient.
But what I’m not OK with is too much of my healthcare being turned over to technology when I just want a human being to hold my hand and provide me with peace of mind. I don’t mean all the time! If I require a check-up, or some bloodwork, then I don’t need a handholder. But If I have dire symptoms, or pain in a strange body part, or anything scary like that – yes – I need a human being to be there for me. I can’t turn to my cell phone for comfort (can you?)
Now, granted, I am pretty much old-school on this. I’m old enough to remember the days when the doctor came to the house! So I grew up in a world where the doctor spent time with me, answered my questions, provided me with decision-making support. And listened to me!
Unfortunately, with healthcare’s focus on tech, and to the exclusion of that one-on-one peace of mind that we had in the old days. I’m still looking for Marcus Welby (don’t know Marcus Welby? Look him up!). Instead I’m getting portals and communication with a tech, if at all. And that just does not cut it for me.
So much reliance on technology, to the exclusion of personal experiences (high touch), has now created patients who are more uncertain, more scared than ever before. If you were diagnosed with cancer 20 years ago, you had a doctor to discuss it with. If you are diagnosed with cancer today, you can read about it in your portal.
So where does that leave us? It leaves us craving that gone-missing part of what we used to get from our doctors and other providers – a sense that they cared one way or the other, that we weren’t just another part of the profit machine, that whether we were successfully treated, safely, really mattered. That we were in it together.
Enter independent, professional patient advocates who have rushed in to fill that vacuum of personal conversations and service.
As human beings, we will always need other human beings to be there with us through difficult times. Now that the healthcare system has stepped back from that role, professional patient advocates have stepped in to FILL that role. And, frankly, you as a patient are even better served today than you were before when it was just your doctor! In this way….
Patient advocates and care managers will always be available to you 24/7. Doctors are available to you when you are in their offices. Advocates can accompany you home from a hospitalization or an appointment, and take care of all those post-discharge or appointment tasks like prescription-filling, or making follow-up appointments. As a patient, knowing those tasks are being taken care of on your behalf brings incredible peace of mind. If you are suddenly hospitalized, your patient advocate or care manager can make arrangements for collecting your mail or feeding your dog. If you need someone to walk you through your treatment options, you have your patient advocate to do so – when you need him or her, not just when you have an appointment. Have you ever heard of a healthcare provider doing those things?
If you are OK with apps and portals to guide you through your healthcare, then this blog post is not for you.
But if you are like me, and you know you need another human being to walk you through your healthcare journey, holding your hand and making sure you know everything you need to know, when you need to know it, and to discuss options with you at the right time – then you, too, will be well-served by hiring a patient advocate or care manager.
Learn more about AdvoConnection and The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates