Whenever I’m asked to lecture to a group, as soon as I finish speaking someone will stand up to say that they wish they knew about Pathfinders before they needed us. They explain that when they (or their loved one) was diagnosed, they found themselves dealing with overwhelming challenges, and now wish that they had hired someone from an organization like ours. They explain to the group how valuable it would have been to have had an advocate help them navigate the health care system, make good decisions, and avoid the common mistakes that occur when one is suddenly thrown into the medical maze. They say it would have been worth every penny.
Then, inevitably, someone else from the audience will ask: “But isn’t that what my doctor is for? Isn’t that what the people at the clinic do?. Why would I have to pay for something like this?”
And that’s when things get interesting…
What most people don’t realize is that no matter how terrific the medical team might be, how well regarded the system, or how many support people are in the picture, a medical challenge can steal away the most educated medical consumer’s confidence and inject chaos into the situation. Even the most dedicated doctors, nurses and social workers can’t be at a patient’s side all the time, and they are constrained by the demands on their time and the barriers within their systems. And those systems are far more complex and challenging than most of us realize until we’re at their mercy. Given that we’re dealing with them at the time where we are less competent and resilient than usual, a situation can unravel at record speed.
Unfortunately, most of us don’t want to think about scenarios like these so we enter them completely unprepared. We cover our eyes and hope for the best, assuming we can rely on the people around us and figure it out as we go along. Unfortunately, as those people who have been through it before can tell you, it just doesn’t work that way.
Private professional patient advocates, like those on our staff at Pathfinders, are the answer to today’s complex and sometimes impersonal health care system. We are there to partner with you at your medical appointments, during treatment, at the hospital, and in your home. We represent each of our clients so that they receive the most individualized, appropriate and professional care available. We ensure you’re your medical bills are accurate and fair. We facilitate family communication and mediate difficult conversations. Finally, we make sure that people can look back at their medical experience without regret.
As I often say at those speaking engagements: even if you choose not to listen to me, listen to the people who have been there; they know what they’re talking about!