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Interview: Trisha, The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates

Posted by Jess Maxwell on Feb 04, 2015

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Interview: Trisha, The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates

Trisha Torrey is the founder of the APHA, The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates. She tells us why she got started, what medical billing advocates do, and gives advice to anyone who thinks they want to be an advocate. 

1. What sparked your interest in patient advocacy?

My own run-in with the healthcare system in 2004 – I was misdiagnosed, which was the worst, but also the best thing that happened to be because it lead me to the work that I do now. The story is a long one, but here it is: http://everypatientsadvocate.com/misdiagnosis.htm

2. What made you want to start the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates?

I realized that there were many people who needed help and couldn’t advocate for themselves and a lot of people who could help them but didn’t have the skills they needed to do it. Thus, creating an organization to provide resources to the helpers would go a long way toward supporting those who needed the help. Voila! APHA and AdvoConnection (the directory where patients and caregivers can find the help they need was founded in the fall of 2009.

3. What is the mission of APHA?

Our mission is to maximize the number of well-trained and prepared advocates available to the public by providing the education and support needed by patient advocates to start and grow advocacy careers.

4. How would you describe a medical billing advocate to someone who has never heard of the profession?

Medical billing advocates can help make sense of, and correct, one’s medical bills and claims. If the problem a patient experiences with the healthcare system is money-related, then they should call on a medical billing advocate.

5. What is the most important thing that you teach advocates?  

How to help clients understand the advocate’s value, so they will hire the advocate and pay him/her for their assistance.

6. What is the most important thing that you teach patients?

We teach patients the value of having an advocate by their side – for both the care they receive and the cost over-sight, can improve their outcomes physically and financially.

7. What is your advice to someone who wants to become a patient advocate?

Join APHA! They can learn about the profession and the possibilities by accessing an incredible resource bank, and networking with others. There are plenty of opportunities, but also real potential to create problems for oneself or the patient he/she serves. So they need to be part of the larger group to help manage their own expectations and their paths forward. We’re building an entirely new profession – private advocacy – so why reinvent the wheel when we’ve already mastered parts of it?

8. What are some of the mistakes patients make when they need medical attention?

I can’t answer that question easily – it took an entire book: You Bet Your Life! The 10 Mistakes Every Patient Makes (How to Fix Them to Get the Healthcare You Deserve) (published in 2013).

9. Do you have any plans to write another book?
My 5th book was published  in January. It’s called So You Want to Be a Patient Advocate? Choosing a Career in Health or Patient Advocacy. Even though it’s the fifth one I’ve completed (#6 will be published later this year), it’s actually first in the Health Advocacy Career Series. Here’s a list of all of the books in the series:

  • So You Want to Be a Patient Advocate? Choosing a Career in Health or Patient Advocacy
  • The Health Advocate’s Start and Grow Your Own Practice Handbook
  • The Health Advocate’s Basic Marketing Handbook
  • The Health Advocate’s Advanced Marketing Handbook
  • The Health Advocate’s Low and No Cost Marketing Ideas Handbook
    (available in 2015)

Plus my first book for patients (mentioned above): You Bet Your Life! The 10 Mistakes Every Patient Makes (How to Fix Them to Get the Healthcare You Deserve).

My second book for patients will be out in mid-March of this year: You Bet Your Life! The Top 10 Reasons You Need a Patient Advocate by Your Side.

10. What do you think will be the big healthcare/patient trends in 2015?

Patient trends:

There will be more confusion, more frustration, and more baby-boomers putting even bigger pressures on the system to deliver.

Healthcare system trends:

There will be rising prices, more denials of service, more rejected claims, more balance billing (illegal in most states, so patients need to be aware), and more duplicate billing of patient payments

All of this combined means more work for patient advocates.

Topics: Knowledge Sharing