I'm so glad that I hired Marie
to help our family.
has made such a difference.
I was at a crisis point with my elderly parents.
Mom had just returned from the hospital after gallbladder failure and a four-day stint in a nursing home for rehab, which she
has dementia, which makes dealing with a hospital stay quite challenging for her
My Dad also deals with severe pain and his
own dementia issues.
When my Mom returned home, both her
and my Dad's issues escalated quickly in several ways.
At this point, I had missed nearly three weeksâ€™ worth of work due to Mom's hospital stay and it was close to the holidays.
I was extremely stressed and didn't know where I would turn next.
I had in-home care in place and had been managing my parent's lives for about three years at this point.
I had reached a breaking point.
Thankfully, I found Marie
was able to come on board very quickly to help manage my parent's situation.
started managing many of the day-to-day issues I had been dealing with for years, including doctors, medications, caregivers and daily household needs.
provided a path forward and a plan for my parents and took a huge amount of stress off my shoulders.
has been able to help me navigate new benefits and is very familiar with the health systems that can be so tough to navigate.
is now an integral part of our care team and I have been able to return to work and to spending time with my wife and daughter.
caring interaction and dynamic management of my parent's situation has allowed them to remain at home
where they really want to be.
has made all the difference to our family and I'm so very grateful for her
Marie Connolly is a professional patient advocate and founder of Guiding Light LLC.
For Marie Connolly
, patient advocacy seemed natural like a natural progression after her
long career in healthcare.
Connolly, now the owner and founder of the patient advocacy firm Guiding Light LLC in the Denver, Colo., area, was a case manager for 20 years.
For much of that time, she
worked for insurance companies in their Medicaid HMO plans helping low-income people navigate the complicated healthcare system.
"Thatâ€™s where I learned to really interact with the community,â€� she
"I fell in love with what I did.â€�
But after 12 years working for health plans
says corporate America lost its luster.
That was when she
decided to branch off and become an independent patient advocate.
"So I took this leap of faith and thought I could do [advocacy] on my own.â€�
In 2002, Connolly
took the first steps to establish her
A friendâ€™s dad was ailing and he
about what he
should for his
father and what options his
From there, Connolly
did some Internet research about what it would take to start a patient advocacy business.
She created a promotional brochure that listed her qualifications and joined RNcasemanager.com and the Professional Patient Advocate Institute to promote her services.
, the sole employee in her
business, helps patients explore different treatment options so patients and their families can make well-informed decisions about care.
deals with paperwork and negotiates with insurance companies to ensure that patients get the highest benefit for the lowest out-of-pocket expense.
also monitors medication regimens, coordinates medical care, arranges transportation to appointments and deals with difficult issues, such as whether patients need additional care and supervision.
has styled herself as an "independent patient advocate,â€� noting that there wasnâ€™t anyone else in her
region providing the same services as she
was independently of a hospital, physician practice or healthcare plan.
web presence, Connolly
had won countless workersâ€™ compensation contracts, which have provided a steady flow of income for her
has also had a few geriatric clients and is now working to promote that side of her
provided patient advocacy services for her
first geriatric client for five years until his
The patientâ€™s son had located her
through an online database of case managers.
Patientsâ€™ children, Connolly
says, are definitely her
says that elderly patients might not seek out patient advocacy services on their own, but their adult children are more willing to pay for it, especially if they donâ€™t have the time to care to care for their parents on their own because of work or geographical issues.
"I think the more we keep educating people about the need there is for [patient advocacy], itâ€™s going to be something for everyone,â€� Connolly says.
is trying to put patient advocacy in the forefront with some marketing tactics that sheâ€™s using to promote her
First, sheâ€™s learning the basics of social media.
hired a social media consultant and created a Facebook page for Guiding Light
and a profile on LinkedIn.
admits that sheâ€™s still new to social media, but Connolly
says itâ€™s becoming an increasingly important way to market a business.
As far as more traditional marketing, Connolly
originally set aside $3,000 for marketing and advertising purposes.
Now, that number has swelled to about $5,000 and sheâ€™s doing a mix of both online and print advertisements.
At first, Connolly
didnâ€™t actively market her
business at first.
tried some lot of face-to-face marketing, but ultimately, didnâ€™t have much success.
"I tried for a little bit walking into facilities and introducing myself.
But marketing is not an easy thing for me.â€�
In terms of advertising, Connolly
offers a word of caution: donâ€™t rely solely on word-of-mouth.
first started her
didnâ€™t do much networking, and the networking she
did do was mostly with other healthcare professionals and organizations.
While itâ€™s important to join professional organizations for the resources they offer, Connolly
is now focusing more on networking in broader business groups who might not know about patient advocacy and the kinds of services she
"I decided to change my direction to target people who will be actually using my services instead of people who will be referring others to my services,â€� she
After changing her
marketing strategy, Connolly
joined whatâ€™s known as a "leads groupâ€� in her
The group includes business owners and sales professionals from non-competitive industries that help each other cultivate their businesses.
Leads groups are often lead by state and local chambers of commerce.
This year, Connolly
decided it was time to ramp up her
took out some ad space in the Seniors Blue Book, a guide that provide seniors, caregivers and senior professionals a comprehensive source of services, senior housing options, resources and information.
The book is available online and in several states, including Colorado.
said a large portion of her
marketing budget went to this endeavor and she
hopes to see a return on her
new efforts in marketing and social media will help bring in more clients.