Sometimes you learn the best lessons at the least likely places. I received a valuable insight about Pathfinders from my neighborhood athletic shoe store.
The background: I teach tai chi, so I need shoes that enable me to be on my feet a lot. And tai chi shoes must give the wearer a sense of contact with the ground, and work in any condition (wet grass, inside a conference room, etc.). I like ones with a minimal “offset” (or drop), say under 4 cc, to mimic the barefoot feel. Finally, I like to wear socks, so some of the current runner’s “minimal” shoes aren’t an option.
I combed through Zappos, trying to find something that worked. I love Zappos, and I don’t mind sitting on my computer pouring over my options. And I usually find what I’m looking for. But this time, I came up empty. It was too hard to determine which shoes had the right offset, and I gave up (sorry Zappos: you’re still in my heart).
So, given the widening holes in my current shoes, I tried a different approach: a visit to my neighborhood runner’s store. It was a little intimidating, given that I was surrounded by younger, fitter athletic men and women who were buying shoes for their upcoming marathons and triathlons. And the young man who stepped up to help me was probably still in college. So I prepared for a short visit, figuring this would be another failure. But an hour later I was the thrilled purchaser of not one, but two pairs of reasonably priced, good-looking, comfortable tai chi shoes. I’ve been in walking/tai chi heaven ever since.
So what does this have to do with Pathfinders, or with patient advocacy??? It’s as close as I’ve come to finding the perfect metaphor for why our clients need us, and pick us us over their online or mobile options. It’s not that the available technology options aren’t awesome (many of them are). It’s just that sometimes you need to spend time with an experienced expert who can help you look at the many available options so that you can tailor them accordingly to your own unique situation. Just like my need for shoes, clients have a variety of situations that open them up to a plethora of options. But there is simply no technological solution that can replace that one great expert who can walk you through the tricky course of identifying those options and choosing the one that is exactly right for you.
We can’t help you buy athletic shoes, but we’re the best at making sure you get the healthcare you want, and deserve. No, we’re not the Zappos of healthcare, but that’s OK with us.