Six Degrees of Kevin Ross

My wife brought to my attention an article in Parents® Magazine about choice careers that our kids will be vying for in the near future. I may be biased here, but the predictions that healthcare will remain in the top ten fastest areas for job growth seems like a pretty safe bet.

So as per the article:

“Wanted: personal-care coordinator

Our indepednent home health-care agency is expanding rapidly. We need hundreds of registered nurses with extensive case-management experience to coordinate the care of the elderly and infirm. Your role is vital: You’ll serve as a liaison between patients and their home health aides, primary providers, specialists, and health insurers to make sure they’re getting the best possible treatment.

While qualified nurses can practically pick their position these days, why not choose an area where you can establish meaningful relationships with patients and truly make a difference in their care and their lives? Social workers, licensed practical nurses, and those with related training may also be considered.”

Sounds like a great solution to meeting the needs of our patients while at the same time taking a huge burden off of the system. I probably would have chosen a different title from personal-care coordinator to something like health promoter, but hey, that’s just me.

Actually, it is me. It’s what I do and I’ve been and advocate, liaison, and promoter of health for about five years now. Organizations, practices, and private individuals hire my company to provide these well needed services. This is a great opportunity for independent contractors and small businesses like mine to really influence change for both the patients and our fractured healthcare system.

So, the title of this post of course is a play on that ever popular game, “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” where just about anyone in Hollywood can be traced back to Kevin Bacon in about six steps or less. Well, I consider the same to be true for myself in this industry, however I’ll admit that I haven’t reached Kevin Bacon status quite yet, but simply put you just have to know the right people. As a health promoter it’s my job to connect you with the resources you desperately need to get you back on the path to feeling better. I either know the right person, or I know someone who’s connected to that individual or resource. The degree of separation also works in the other direction. I’m often at some event or setting where I meet someone who’s a neighbor of a cousin of a friend who I’ve been able to help.

Having a broad knowledge of diagnoses, medications, procedures, testing, and insurance regulations is certainly helpful for this job. One of the biggest assets however is the ability to network and have the right connections. This isn’t as glamorous as show business, but I don’t think I’ll get any objections that it probably has a much higher level of importance. Depending on my patient’s needs I can typically connect them with the right resources in just a few steps. Part of my service does involve working directly with the patient on lifestyle changes, medication compliance, and nutrition, however I also go to great lengths to know the right professionals to refer my patients to when they need it most. If I can’t help you directly, then I’ll find someone who can.

I do want to state that I recognize primary care providers also have a network of providers that they refer their patients to when a diagnosis requires a specialist, but my services can help streamline that process and I can assist with keeping all of the providers involved in your care on the same page. This is basically continuity of care. Has a nice ring to it doesn’t it? Complexity arises when a patient starts receiving treatment from multiple specialists in different offices with varying means of communication. My role is to make certain the data is where it needs to be, the provider is able to make an informed decision about the patient’s care, and the patient can focus on their health.

I’m an advocate for technology, however sometimes our patients can get lost in the shuffle and may not receive needed intervention because a computer or some other device states otherwise. I’ve invested quite a bit of time communicating with providers and insurance companies about my patients’ needs. Some of these conversations stem from improperly filled out paperwork, and with a little sleuthing and a knack for articulating the right message to the decision maker, a patient is more likely to get what they need and receive it in a more reasonable time frame. Our urgent cares and ER’s are treating patients with conditions or complications that may have been prevented if a simple insurance approval covered a specific therapy or piece of equipment that was initially denied.

Bridging these gaps is a critical piece if we’re going to turn this system around. I’ll try to stay apolitical here, but I agree that everyone is entitled to receive the care that they need to stay healthy. There is fear that the system is going to be overwhelmed by this new healthcare bill, but if the government is willing to see the importance of utilizing nurses and other healthcare professionals in this role then a large portion of this burden will be alleviated. Boots in the sand, integrated in our communities, and finger on the pulse. “Hi, I’m Kevin Ross, a registered nurse, an advocate and your promoter of health, have we worked together yet?”



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