Last summer, my 8 year old black Labrador jumped off the back deck chasing after a rabbit – her favorite pastime. Shortly thereafter, she was walking on 3 legs and unable to ascend the steps. Needless to say, I was dismayed and concerned. After getting her safely into the house, I immediately began the diagnosis process online. It didn’t take many clicks before I determined she likely tore her ACL. Little did I know, a dog can suffer a torn ligament in the knee much like humans. I called the vet to inquire if one of the doctors performed the surgery needed to repair the torn ligament. Yes, in fact, a vet on staff could repair it, but the cost would be well over $1000. Hmmmm. I had more questions! What about other treatment options, expected outcome, success rate, best surgeons in the area, etc. I made several calls, gathered all the data I could find online and presented my husband a plan of action with choices–several in fact. How do we decide? I became my dog’s health advocate. After all, I wanted the best, cost effective treatment for my companion, but only if it was worth the cost and to her long term benefit. I couldn’t really ask her what she wanted, so we made the choice based on my research. She is only a dog, not a human, but still a special part of our family. She’s now almost 8 months post-op and doing really well. The choice turned out to be a good one for her.
Patient advocacy is something many of us take for granted. We use websites, family and friends, social media and other resources to make decisions regarding our health or the health of someone entrusted to our care. Many times the outcome is uneventful and we manage to avoid unnecessary trials, frustration or disappointment. But, other times the outcome isn’t so sweet and we struggle. We worry and fret, seek answers from anyone and everyone and try to manage our fears and anxiety. What if we had someone to help us navigate the maze of healthcare, ask important questions, and help us discover what we don’t know? Can we put a price on peace of mind, support from someone by our side, answers to our many questions, and an end to sleepless nights?
Trisha Torrey, a Patient Empowerment Expert and President of The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates, outlines the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of hiring an independent, private patient advocate. In her article “How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Private Patient or Health Advocate?”, Torrey repeatedly states one of the reasons for hiring a private patient advocate is because “you don’t know what you don’t know.” Torrey makes an excellent case for hiring a patient advocate with her examples of real estate broker vs. for-sale-by-owner, CPA or online software, and certified mechanic or do-it-yourself repair. Sometimes the decision to hire depends on the complexity of the problem, confidence in your own ability to handle the issue and past experience. As your private, independent advocate, we will help you sort out the options, listen to all of your concerns and coach you in taking the next steps. We offer a long list of services customized according to your needs. We will work with you to design a plan of action that meets your specifications. Please don’t hesitate to call if you think we can help because you don’t really know what you don’t know! My relentless research to find the best and most cost effective treatment for our dog was a good investment of my time and energy. It saved us a lot of money, I had confidence we hired one of the most trusted surgeons in the region to perform the repair, and the information I gleaned from several websites provided helpful tips for recovery and helped set realistic expectations. I hate to imagine the disappointment and frustration we would have endured had I not been equipped to advocate for her. It’s just one example of advocated healthcare…even if for a dog 🙂