The First Question to Ask a Potential Client

How exciting!

You’ve got a real live potential new client on the phone… you dive right in and begin asking questions, letting them answer, listening carefully, taking copious notes… a good start, right?

The potential new client seems very ready to speak with you. He seems to know just how to answer your questions. He seems pretty savvy about what the advocate-patient relationship might look like. 

What a joy!

Or…. is it?

Maybe not.

Even though the whole concept of advocacy and care management and navigation is relatively new, there are thousands of people who have worked with an advocate before. And sometimes those relationships haven’t gone so well.

Why not?

Unfortunately, there are too many patient-clients who try to milk what they can out of the relationship with an advocate, unfairly, or untruthfully. The stories I hear would make your toenails curl, ranging from simply misunderstanding what they could expect from their advocate, to out-and-out lying in an attempt to get what they want.

And, sadly, sometimes those clients leave an advocate in the dust, perhaps complaining about them in AdvoConnection Directory reviews, or even on Yelp, or to the Better Business Bureau. Advocates have lost sleep, confidence, and too much money over these kinds of situations.

Then that less-than-honest patient looks for another advocate victim to see if they can get what they want from someone who isn’t as savvy at working with patients yet. (Oh! The stories!)

So that takes us to the first question you should be asking – one that can help you decide if you want to work with them…. that is,

Have you ever worked with an independent, private advocate before?

Now, they might, or might not, be truthful. So you need to listen carefully to the answer. They may say no, and that might be the honest answer. But if you suspect they are being less than honest, then ask more questions to get to the bottom of it. And if they tell you that yes, they worked with another advocate, then ask why they didn’t want to continue working with the other one. That will give you clues as to whether you want to work further with the caller.

Once you have discussed their previous experience, good, bad, or non-existent, then you can decide whether you want to take the call further. If so, then proceed with your usual questions.  If not, then suggest you are not the right advocate for them.

As an advocate or care manager, your job is to protect your client from being battered by the healthcare system.

But just as important is the rule that says you need to protect yourself first.


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