PEOPLE STRATGY FORUM

EPISODE #22

Elaine O'Bleness

Why Everyone Should Be Concerned About Employees’ Health: The Benefits Of Healthcare Advocacy For Employees With Elaine O’Bleness

Healthcare is essential and every workforce in every workplace should have sufficient access to it. Elaine O’Bleness helps employers take care of their employees through healthcare advocacy. With over 30 years of healthcare management experience, few people are as qualified as Elaine to speak about this topic. Taking care of employees’ health benefits doesn’t just benefit the employees. It also has benefits for the employer and the whole company. Just what does every stakeholder get from healthcare advocacy? Join in and learn from Elaine’s insights!

Why Everyone Should Be Concerned About Employees’ Health: The Benefits Of Healthcare Advocacy For Employees With Elaine O’Bleness

We’re going to get straight into it. We have a fantastic panel for you in this episode. You’re going to love it. It’s going to be a fun conversation. If you’ve never joined us here at the show, welcome officially. To give you an idea of what we do here, we are going on over 60 sessions. We’ve been very consistent and it’s growing. We had a great turnout in the last episode, which was awesome. We appreciate that you come to every episode, but this is a mastermind of leaders. We’re dedicated to creating workplaces where people will thrive, employers reward and customers love. We do that by bringing a different guest speaker to every episode on different topics to help you.

I’ll introduce you to the rest of our lovely panel here. We have Char, who has years of HR experience. She took all that experience in talent management and HR and formed her own company, Rocky Mountain Health Advocates. She’s brought in the Director of Rocky Mountain Health Advocates and that Susan Venters. Welcome, Susan. We’re excited to have you. I met you before when we had Char on and we were talking with one of your other coworkers. It isn’t Susan’s first time. She knows the drill.

We have Sam, Founder and CEO of CompTeam. Sam is an expert with all things compensation, talent initiatives and rewards. I’m also going to introduce you to our lovely guest speaker. Our guest speaker has much experience. We are talking about taking care of employees with healthcare advocacy. There is no one better to speak to us about this than Elaine O’Bleness. She hops on the forum and tunes in quite frequently. It’s cool to have a very consistent audience speaking to us.

She has many years of healthcare management experience, as she’s worked with companies like Banner Health and Cerner. She took all of her healthcare experience working with all healthcare organizations, and she’s got her practice in patient advocacy. That name is Health Information and Patient Advocacy Associates. She offers services to different businesses for their employees. Welcome, Elaine. How are you doing?

Healthcare Advocacy: Fifty-three million Americans are absent from work each year to assist with the healthcare of their family and friends.

 

I’m doing great. Jules, I do apologize that I’m in Northern California. My Zoom didn’t get up. I’m joining you by phone.

We love the dedication and commitment. You’re here and that’s all that matters. It’s all good.

Elaine and I have worked together for many years, believe it or not. I used to be her HR director back in the day. I’m super proud to have Elaine on her because she’s supporting my company. Thank you, Elaine, for joining. I love you.

Thanks for the invite. I wanted to talk to you about patient advocacy for employees. We want to talk a little bit about what a patient advocate navigator could do to help your employees. I always like to play the what-if games. What if you had key staff in your organization that had to miss work and important deadlines to assist their family members or even close friends that were seriously ill and battling the maze of the healthcare system?

Fifty-three million Americans are absent from work each year to assist with the health care of their family and friends. Seventy percent of that 53 million Americans suffer some work-related difficulty because of it. For instance, they have to reduce their hours and take a demotion. There are performance warnings, loss of benefits and may even have to give up working entirely for some time. They say that caregiver absenteeism costs the US economy $17.1 to $33 billion annually.

I want to share a personal example. Back in 2016, my daughter had a health crisis. My mother was critically ill and passed away in May of 2016. I was having a horrible time dealing with the bills, helping my mom and daughter get into doctor visits and managing that, plus being a regional director of a huge healthcare system. I do understand the what-if. It was one of the most hardship times in my life. In addition, I bought a new home and my ex-husband had a critical car accident as well. It all happened in one month. These are not just elderly people. We’re talking about younger people that were ill. I could barely concentrate on my job. That’s an example.

You can help your employees navigate the maze of the healthcare system. Click To Tweet

What Char was talking about is they’re not missing work, but they’re at work. They’re worried about all kinds of medical issues for themselves, their loved ones, including payment of the medical bills and where are the medical bills coming from. That’s called presenteeism. The staff is at work, but they’re completely distracted and worn out. They spend a good part of their day attending to personal or family health-related issues, making calls or trying to set appointments. The statistics say that this reduces productivity by more than a third. Nationally, it costs the economy the same amount as absenteeism debt.

What if you had an employee benefit? You had health advocacy and navigation as an employee benefit. You could help your employees navigate the maze of the health care system. Jonathan Marcus, who’s the Manager of Compensation and Benefits for Think Tank in Alexandria, Virginia says that they have used advocates for their employees. This is to resolve claims issues, file an appeal for insurance denial, get general information about insurance plans and find doctors to research support for specific health conditions. Those are the things that a patient advocate, health advocate or navigator can do as an employee benefit.

Susan, what is your perspective on this presenteeism and how your Rocky Mountain Health Advocates employees have been distracted at work? What is your opinion about that?

This is such a great benefit because we have one individual in particular who has been struggling with her illness. She’s been very distracted because she’s facing that scene where she’s about to lose her insurance. It’s terrifying for her because she has a serious preexisting condition. That is completely distracting to her because she’s so worried about that. She can’t focus on her job at hand. Elaine has been such a blessing. She came in and has assisted our employee with figuring out the healthcare system, which insurance she could take and what she can do once she leaves her parent’s insurance.

I went and visited with this particular employee. She was talking to people, active and happy. She and I got into the discussion about Elaine and her working with Elaine. She says, “I can’t thank you enough for offering this benefit to me because Elaine has helped me so that I can focus. She helped me with the insurance piece, so that’s not constantly on my mind. I can focus on other things and think about my job, performance and responsibilities here at work.” As opposed to, she says, “It was constantly weighing on my mind. What am I going to do? I don’t know what to do.” She felt very lost. Thankfully Elaine has helped her to be able to navigate through. In her mind, she says, “I can sleep at night again.”

Don’t you also say, Susan, that you also had to give this employee some negative feedback or not-so-positive feedback about her performance? How did she react about that?

I had approached her with performance questions and concerns. Her performance was quite low and we had noticed a decline. She opened up to us and said, “I’m struggling with this. This isn’t something that I like to talk about, but it is something that is continually on my mind.” Setting her up with Elaine has eased all those fears and helped her become a much more productive, better and focused employee to where she isn’t present. She was there physically, but she wasn’t engaged in her job responsibilities. This piece has been taken care of and she feels more confident about her future, so she’s able to focus on her job.

That’s a case example using that employee. We do have her approval to use her as a case example because this is not a HIPAA violation. When she approached me in the beginning, she was extremely distraught. This employee has a very serious health condition. It’s MS. She has told me that it’s fine to give all of her information. We’re not going to use her name. She approached me and told me that she was going to be 26, which means she ages out of her parents’ insurance. I’m giving this as an example, so people understand what we did for this employee. She did not know where to turn because her medications are several thousand dollars a month.

Her medication is a very new and wonderful drug that had her in remission over the years. In other words, she has to have her medication. We did a lot of research about MS and found several foundations that can help with co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses, which she will need to apply to. Also, she found a health broker. She took the initiative to call me and ask me if I would go to the health insurance broker with her.

We went and had a meeting with the health insurance broker. He found her an ACA plan that was very reasonable as far as premiums. He did all the research to make sure that her particular physician and medications were covered. This employee said to me, “If my parents or I have to pay you, that’s fine.” I said, “No, this is a benefit that is offered to you by your employer.” She has told me several times that she cannot believe that employer would offer this type of benefit.

PSF 22 | Healthcare Advocacy

Healthcare Advocacy: Having a health advocate support your employees could help them with their life goals as well.

 

Thank you, Elaine. I’m the Business Owner of Rocky Mountain Health Advocates. We do have medical benefits, but it’s more of a co-op. We can’t quite afford a very expensive medical benefits program as a startup company. We’re only a few years old, but we offer dental and several other benefits. What I understood that you said, Elaine, is that this employee acknowledged our benefit. I’ll be candid. It didn’t quite meet her needs with her preexisting condition.

They cannot deny a preexisting condition, but it is not true insurance. It’s a co-op. It’s the cost of the medication every month that would preclude her from that insurance.

Can you share how much her medication costs her a month?

Her response to me about that is $10,000 a month.

Let’s go back to my original story, where I talked about my mother. My mother was only 64. My mother also passed away very young. It’s sometimes interesting as a business owner or director like Susan or a senior leader when we’re trying to talk about benefits to our employees. Commonly, the younger employees will say, “I’m healthy. I have no problem. Don’t worry about me.” One, they don’t even sign up for the benefits. Benefit coordinators out there, you know what I’m talking about. We’re talking about those open enrollment periods and we’re trying to get our employees to take advantage of the benefits. Sam might even know the percentage. I’m not a numbers person, but the percentage under total rewards and compensation said they don’t even want to take advantage of the benefit.

We can’t say anything about it.

There was always a percentage of our employees that didn’t take advantage of the benefit. Imagine me starting this big six-figure position with a big healthcare system and trying to support my family. I had four major life incidents happening at the same time. Elaine and I knew each other and had worked together. I left Banner back in 2012. I laughed because Elaine was so sweet. Elaine, you called me and gave me some compassion because we were Facebook friends about my mom and all that. In this role, I would have hired you. You had a subscription program, too, that could have helped me with my mom.

My mom passed away because of a brain hemorrhage in my home, but only two weeks before that happened, I was with my mom in the medical office who cleared her bill of health. I was completely confused because my mom was on a bag full of twelve medications. I didn’t understand and had no clue what all these medications were. My mom was reluctant to tell me because she had pride. I heard from one of my Hispanic leaders that some people have pride. They don’t want their children to know the types of medications that they’re on. Those medications might be conflicting with one another.

There are notebooks full of benefits and resources in communities that no one really utilizes. Click To Tweet

That’s where health advocates can help you, even your family members. You can research the meds, condition and encourage to tell the client what you think they should do, but you can give all of the information that you’ve obtained in research about second opinions, meds and the different health offerings that are in the community. They’re very frankly about insurance plans.

When these issues came up, we had Warren speak from the Burch’s Group talking about disaster recovery from large economic calamities that can happen to the workforce, but we also need to look at these individual crises. These make a significant impact on our people. A lot of people have been in this situation where something happens with a family member.

The first thing that goes through your mind if you’re far away is, “Jesus, is this critical? Do I need to jump on a plane and get there? What was my best time spent in trying to find solutions that are exhibiting the right doctor?” All these crises are going through your head and we don’t know how to handle them. Having a resource, an expert who regularly deals with these things can greatly relieve our employees.

Even the executives in a company. I remember one of the hospital’s systems that I worked in. My VP was absent from work for over a month when his parents passed away. Even previous to that month, it was the end of life. He spent most of his day trying to figure out the medical bills for his parent as they were involved in the healthcare system for end-of-life issues.

I remember this example, but you can’t disclose to your entire employee population why this executive is missing, absent or even not quite present because we also have a HIPAA standard with our employees as an employer. What Susan talked about is this employee chose to disclose that she has a medical condition with us, but we have to protect the HIPAA of the employee. We have another employee in a wheelchair, but he is very open and transparent because we’re health advocates. He is one of our most top and productive employees. Back to the executive example, that is going to impact that company major.

You’re right. The same thing happened. He was a VP of several departments. He was gone for over a month and staff got to the place where they’re saying, “I bet he’s not coming back.” I believe that a health advocate could have helped in that situation too.

Often, when employees don’t see their leaders or don’t have clear communication about what’s going on, they imagine the worst or think that their VP is climbing Mount Fuji as Sam does or on vacation. “That executive doesn’t care about us,” but there’s real stuff happening. It could be all levels of the population too. At the frontline, let’s talk about the restaurant industry. Employers have challenges with hiring and retaining people. The restaurant industry is going through a horrible time with this. Imagine the health impact in the restaurant industry but with COVID, it’s very concerning if you have a sick employee.

It’s throughout the organization. The main thing I want to get across is all kinds of health research that an advocate can help you with. Many times, the employee will have all types of medical bills from all different areas. It’s important to take those bills, sort them out and reference them back to the insurance coverage to make sure that you know what is owed, to whom and who should be paying the bill because sometimes the bills are not paid for a variety of red tape reasons. The patient doesn’t owe those bills.

We all know the dysfunction of the US health service in that particular situation. There’s plenty of times where we’ll get bills from our provider because they didn’t submit the claim correctly or there was a change of insurance coverage, they didn’t have it on record and so forth. If they’re not on top of it, many employees simply pay the bill and pocket of that expense when they don’t need to be. Having an advocate that you can reach out to and say, “I got this. What should I do? Is this something that I need to be concerned about? How do I prioritize this,” is a huge relief?

Sam, that happens a lot in the elder population. Those probably are not your employees but they are your employee’s families who are trying to help their families with the bills. I can give you an example of a time even at Cerner. This happened to be a financial executive. He said to me something like, “My mom got a bill for almost $200,000 after her last day in the hospital.” I said, “Pete, isn’t your mom over 65?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “She’s Medicare.” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Medicare pays on a DRG for inpatient stays. It’s against the law to balance bill the patient.” He said, “Are you sure?” I said, “Trust me, I’m sure.” Two months later, he comes to me and said, “Elaine, you’re not going to believe this. You’re exactly right. My mom was ready to pay that bill out of her savings.”

A different example is I’m buying a house and my credit was getting impacted. When I did some research, I learned that I had an imaginary $115 bill out there. I was like, “What is this from?” It was from many years ago and I had no idea that my credit was getting impacted by it. I know that’s not medical-related, but that distracted me. That was like, “What is going on with my credit?”

It is medically related because until you get a full accounting, which is called an explanation of benefits, once you get a full accounting of where all these bills are and you start to justify them to the facts, you don’t know those bills were there. The only way you would have known that that bill was there was if you’d get a full accounting from your insurance company.

Susan, I want to bring you in. Aren’t our leaders and employees super excited about working with our company in part-time hours able to move into new homes and improve their lifestyles?

We have three employees that have purchased a new home in 2020. I’m making dreams come true. That’s one thing that this particular employee has this medical condition. She’s very excited to continue growing with the company because she feels supported. She knows that we’re behind her and we will do what it takes to support her and her growth with our company. That’s hard to find elsewhere as well.

This is like an indirect way. You would never think that having a health advocate support your employees could help them with their life goals as well, such as getting room and board, house rental or a new home.

All of the time that I’ve been in the general corporate workplace, HR has always told us what the insurance company is, how much it costs, what it covers and all that kind of thing. There’s never anything on the back end like, “When you get this bill. How do I know if somebody did not work out and they give you a number to call? How do I know what my coverage is for different things?”

In this country, there has been so much trouble over what they call surprise billing. Maybe the anesthesiologists or radiologists were quoted out of network and the patient never knew that. That is against the law. This law is brand new for the country. Several states have state laws against it before this. Those are the things that a health advocate can help an employee with. That kind of knowledge I have never seen come from benefits in HR.

PSF 22 | Healthcare Advocacy

Healthcare Advocacy: High retention rate with good people is possible if they understand that the company truly cares about them.

 

From my experience, I had over 1,000 employees. At one point, 3,000 employees. I was an overworked HR person. I remember that I would go out as an HR person, not only dealing with employee relations and all those sitting in the boardroom that I had to do. I also remember many employees who come to me complaining about the benefits department because they felt like the benefits department wasn’t helping them. We happen to have a regional benefits coordinator but imagine a regional benefits coordinator had eleven hospitals at the time to support. The employees had to call a 1-800 number, as most benefits are particularly in big companies.

As you typically do, on hold for fifteen minutes waiting for a benefits coordinator to get on the phone. Imagine the what-if and had these conversations. I’ve also had to be the HR person with compassion, dignity, and respect, which is our values that Susan will go on about, protecting their HIPAA information and concerned about helping them. Also, I had employees say, “I’m afraid to tell my manager or director that I have MS or cancer because I don’t want to be retaliated against.”

You don’t want that to impact your productivity or retention.

I was trying to help out the employee, talk to the benefits coordinators and call the 1-800 numbers myself. It was the same runaround. I don’t blame those departments because those departments are getting reduced for staffing. Everything is getting 1-800 atomized. We’ve all been on those calls. I’m the Owner of Rocky Mountain Health Advocates. Elaine had been in my staff meetings twice. She was throwing out information and was saying, “Did you know there’s a portal that retains all of your health information? Here’s the link to get to that. Did you know this or that?” My employees raise their hands. They were glued to Elaine. They were like, “What? I had no idea about these.”

A lot of people didn’t even know that that service existed. It was an eye-opener for employees to know that this is available. I see somebody in the chat that was talking about it being a dream. Elaine is there to help you and make these dreams come true because you want to be in tune with your employees. People don’t know about this. This is a very helpful service.

The employee that we were talking about said, “I don’t know how I can pay the co-pays or pay them at maximum out of pocket.” I said to her, “There’s a service called NeedyMeds.org. They have a list by a diagnosis of different organizations and foundations. They have funds available for co-pays that you apply for. There’s only X amount of dollars per year, but if you don’t get it the first time, you reapply. They have money for scholarships, students in school, camps, by diagnosis and state. It’s an incredible service. That’s the kind of thing that a health navigator knows. They know all the different services that already existed in the economy.”

If you understand what’s happening, the fact is we have a large percentage of our population as a whole moving into the Boomer age. We have fewer young people to help take care of the older population.

It doesn’t matter about age because for this particular employee, what we did is we got out on NeedyMeds.org. There was a page of different organizations that she can apply to for financial assistance.

She appreciates the fact that we’re giving her free resources, information and tools that she can help have a better quality of life. That’s only one of our employees. We have many that have also said this to us. They say, “You are the best employer I’ve ever worked for because you care. You care about me as an individual, my family and my health.” I’ll tell you from a financial perspective and I’m not a financial person.

Susan, you were on the phone. I overheard you with Bruce, our CEO. We were talking about the cost of one of our benefits. It was like, “How much can we afford as a startup company and make it through a critical period of transition of changing labs, locations and still keep our benefits going?” The fact that we had Elaine providing all these free resources, our employees are not disgruntled.

That’s the reason we have a high retention rate with our good people because they understand that this company truly cares about them. We’re providing these services, options and benefits to them because we do care. We want them to be healthy long-term. Not only while they’re working for us but forever, even when they leave.

How can we be called Rocky Mountain Health Advocates if we can’t model health?

A lot of times, we’re putting pressure on our employees to perform at work and these issues pop up. For instance, they may have a health issue and need some minor surgery or something like that. They’re like, “I don’t have time to look for a second opinion or alternative doctors. I didn’t even know where to look.” They marched down the road. With that health advocate, what is the process if they reached out and say, “Could you do some research for me?” Is that what happens?

They would reach out to me and say, “I have osteoarthritis of the knee.” That’s the condition that I had. “Can you help me find a knee surgeon?” I would go right out to Dr. Google and start researching who’s the best knee surgeon in this state or this particular zip code. There are all organizations like Healthgrades and Becker’s. There are all kinds of different organizations that you can research that information from.

We would start to try to correlate those particular positions with the employee’s insurance plan to see if you’ve got an insurance plan that you have to be in-network. “Who’s in-network and who’s not in-network? How far do you want to have to drive? Where is your family? Are they going to be able to assist you? Are they going to be able to be with you during the surgery?” You give that information to the employer or client. Your observations, ideas and opinions as an advocate do not matter. You give the information to the client and they make the choice but you’ve done the research.

It’s the duty of employers and HR departments to make sure their employees know about their benefits. Great benefits are useless if the employees don’t know about them. Click To Tweet

There’s one other thing that’s a critical point with these great benefits that we’re talking about. They’re useless if we don’t know about them. Our duty as an employer in HR departments across the world is to make sure that their employees know about these benefits. Time after time, I go into companies and do a diagnosis. “Let’s do an inventory of everything you got.” That’s what I start with. They give me all this stuff and then I interview employees about these different programs. They’re like, “I didn’t even know that existed.” That’s so common. Think about the waste of money and opportunity. Companies are paying for these benefits year after year and their employees don’t even know about them. It’s ridiculous.

We do these open enrollment things. I did an interim major director position for an employer with 500 employees, but they had a good 25 locations. I was like, “Where do you do your open enrollments?” They said, “At our corporate office.” “How many things do you do?” “We do four.” I’m like, “How do you get the information out to the 25 other locations?” The HR person like me was overwhelmed like, “It’s your job to go out and educate everybody on these benefits.”

You can’t imagine how many times in my work life I have counseled employees or even friends about an employee assistance program. I would say, “We have an employee assistance program. You get six free visits a year for you or anyone in your household.” Employees would say, “They talk to us about that at enrollment, but I had no idea that we could go to a counselor. How do I do that?” I gave them the number and they would do it. I’m reiterating this because that’s an example of what you were talking about, Sam. It’s a benefit that no one uses.

The employee assistance program is such an affordable benefit and it’s one of the most underused. I remember when I first started my career, it was taboo to use the employee assistance program. If you’ve got a mental health problem, they go to see that and everybody’s shunned it. As employers and professionals it’s up to us to open up the realm of these services so that we can best support our employees to better attract, retain, keep them happy at work, engage, and produce their best work. The job of a manager is to move obstacles and get things down. Part of that is caring about your employees. These are the critical things.

I do have an employee that has a daughter that is struggling with mental health. It’s tough on an employee worried about providing mental health resources. It’s very important particularly during the COVID recovery period. We’re learning that many young people, college-age and high school students are struggling with their mental health. If employees have no idea that there’s that mental health benefit, what a waste.

In most of the companies that I’ve been involved with, it’s not just the employee. It’s anyone in their household.

If you’re a struggling single parent, which we know a big percentage of single parents out there. In our culture, we’re a very transparent culture. We are a big HIPAA company. We talk about health and compliance constantly. We know our boundaries. We do have boundaries about getting too involved in our employees’ personal lives, but we can point to a resource like Elaine or all of these other benefits that Elaine has brought forward. Reach out to Elaine. Elaine, you have told me so many benefits and resources.

There are notebooks full of benefits and resources in communities that no one utilizes.

Your CFO is going to love you, too, the financial people out there. The CFOs are going to say, “You’re saying that we have all these resources and it’s not going to cost the company extra as long as we have a solid basic benefit program.” The fact is that you’re going away above and beyond and educating your employees about all these resources in the community, in the nation or globally. I have employees saying they never want to leave us. It’s because we bring in guest speakers like you and people to talk about how to help you in your life, achieve your goals and take care of your kids, parents and yourself.

The more we talk about this with ease, the more it tears down the negative stigma of, “You have a mental illness? It’s fine.” Tear down those walls and make sure everybody knows it’s okay to have a mental or physical illness, a disability. We don’t want to get too personal into it but constantly talking about health and how we can help promote our employees is why they don’t want to leave. They’ve never experienced anything like what we have to offer. Not only the benefits package but as far as our leadership support as well.

The fact that we do different types of things. We do different things relative to how we coach our employees. We use something called the TMA. This is our sponsor. It’s called the TMA Method. We utilize the TMA Method on our company’s competencies and performance management processes because we’re not only about numbers. Although, the numbers are where our paychecks come from. We use the TMA to hire, coach and mentor. It’s a positive psychology tool to open up the dialogue. Since I’m doing one-on-ones with my leadership level, I’ve found that sometimes these discussions come out.

For example, I have an employee who’s constantly missing work because her mother’s ill or an employee that is constantly distracted. TMA is a great tool to start the conversation. Sometimes it gets into more personal information. You can say, “Here are your resources. Call Elaine. She might be a great resource for you and your family. Here is a page of some of the links that might help you.” The TMA is a great conversation starter. What we use the TMA for is if somebody says, “I graduated college and I want to be an epidemiologist or a drummer.” This tool has an app and I love this app.

The app has a competency library.

There’s a great app. It’s a career coach type of app. It’s free. Every employee meeting, at some point, I mentioned it.

I use this app all the time to create my interview questions and go over competencies during review time. The TMA itself to go through what drives people, what motivates you, what type of jobs you will excel in and what you enjoy doing. It helps you get to know your employee. Not on a personal level but more on a professional level of what drives and motivates them.

PSF 22 | Healthcare Advocacy

Healthcare Advocacy: Tear down those walls and make sure everybody knows it’s okay to have a mental illness, physical illness, or a disability.

 

From a compliance standpoint, we don’t talk about our product too much on this in our organization. We can’t be talking specifically about our product, but we can talk about competencies, behaviors, and attitudes. This particular employee, Elaine, was on the phone a lot, probably trying to address her medical concerns.

The thing about it is whatever jobs she has, she cannot afford to come off of those meds.

It’s a perfect balance of using this TMA method to open up positive psychology conversations and talk about behaviors and performance. Oftentimes, those medical conversations start to come out. They’ll say, “I’m sorry. I’m distracted at work. I’m not present at work. I’m worried because I’m coming off on parents’ insurance and I’m looking at these major bills. I have no idea. I don’t know if I can stay at this job because I don’t think it pays enough for me.” These conversations come out. I can say, “Give Elaine a call. Maybe she can help you.” You’ve been doing that complimentary for a couple of my employees. I appreciate that, Elaine. Thank you. Elaine, I love you so much. You’ve been a dedicated listener. You’ve been participating. How can people get in touch with you, Elaine?

You can get it on my website. It’s HI&PAA, HealthInformationAndPatientAdvocacyAssociates.com. You can also find me on the different patient advocacy registries.

How many board-certified patient advocates are there in the nation, Elaine?

They are testing again. I believe that when I got my registry, they said 987 board registered patient advocates in the United States. It’s very popular on both coasts. In the State of Colorado, where I live, I can only find ten patient advocates.

Thank you, Elaine.

Thanks, Sam and Jules, for all your attention.

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About Elaine O’Bleness

PSF 22 | Healthcare Advocacy

I am an experienced Healthcare Specialist with a demonstrated history of success working in the health information technology services industry. I am known to be skilled in Healthcare Consulting, Health Information Management, Patient Advocacy, Patient Privacy, Clinical Documentation Improvement, Healthcare Revenue Integrity, Healthcare Revenue Cycle, Performance Improvement, ICD-10-CM-PCS, and Team Building. I am a strong business development professional with a MBA from University of Texas at Tyler.

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