Friday, March 04, 2016

Family medical coordinator. How’s that for a job?

My husband went to grad school at Harvard, so he automatically got the alumni magazine. Since I was the one in the house who actually read it, I haven’t bothered to inform them that Jim is no longer among the alumni ranks – at least not the ones on this earth.

Anyway, one of the sections I generally look at is the Employment Opportunities classifieds. A “devoted professional couple” is looking for a nanny; a “busy executive” is seeking a personal assistant. And a Manhattan family needs a family medical coordinator and project manager “to research and coordinate family healthcare issues.”

I have a pretty good idea about what it takes to research and coordinate someone’s healthcare issues. Having done it for my husband over the last couple of years for his life, I completely appreciate that the job is demanding, and that the person doing it needs to be “detail-oriented and possess the ability to track multiple projects” involving multiple physicians. Fortunately, I never had to “juggle multiple competing priorities.” During this time, Jim was my one and only priority.

After Jim died, it occurred to me that being a patient advocate (which is how I thought of it), or a family medical coordinator, was something I was pretty good at, and could do professionally. Not that I gave it much thought, but I did consider that it’s something that distant adult children might pay someone to help with on their behalf, as they tried to take care of their elderly parents. That someone could accompany said elderly parents on their appointments, ask questions, take notes, report back to the children. I’m sure there’s a job in there somewhere.

But to hire someone to work full time for a single family?

Here’s some of the other things the ad had to say:

This person will interface with an in-house team of professionals, as well as physicians, medical researchers and consultants (in academia and otherwise) to ensure delivery of highest-quality medical care to family members. (Source: Harvard Magazine)

I know people who have “concierge service” with a doctor, but this is something several order of magnitude beyond that.

It pretty much goes without saying that the folks running this ad are spectacularly wealthy. I mean, who has “an in-house team of professionals”? Wow! The physicians, I suspect, are concierge. And even if you don’t have concierge doctors, I know up close and personal that there are some physicians who’ll give you their cell phone, who’ll get right back to you if you send them an e-mail or a text. (My husband’s surgeon, who no longer had anything directly to do with Jim’s care during end-of-life, was tremendously helpful to us. At one point near the end, I sent out an SOS via email. Chris came directly from surgery, and gave us tremendous practical and emotional support.) But who has access to all those researchers and consultants. Do you just call up the guy who’s just published something in the New England Journal of Medicine and pump him for more info? Are there consultants who can try to get you into a clinical trial that’s otherwise closed for business?

Anyway, the people looking for a full-time medical coordinator obviously have plenty of moola. But who might they be? Saudi royals? Russian oligarchs? Mafiosi? The Trumps? Brad and Angie?

Are these job creators – who’ve created at least one interesting job – suffering from spectacularly poor health that they need a permanent, full-time person seeing to the details? Are they the world’s biggest hypochondriacs? Do they just want this level of care because, hey, it’s something they can afford, so why not?

None of these scenarios would make me want to work for them.

The job posted comes with “significant upside potential.” What are the Key Performance Indicators? Medical appointments made and kept? Sick days? Everyone’s still alive at the end of the year?

What if the bonus is based on a calendar year ending 12/31, but not paid out until spring. I can see getting into a discussion with the boss because Uncle Harry was still alive on December 31st, but kicked the bucket on New Year’s.

Yep, I have thought that I’d be a pretty good person to have “managing” their healthcare. I study up, come up with good questions, keep asking until I get answers. I keep good track of appointments and medicines. I know how to coordinate appointments. I know when to ask for help, when to complain, and when it’s okay to raid the fridge where the nurses keep the popsicles that are the only thing that a lot of people who are dying from cancer can get down. I know how to do a bunch of medical things because, let’s face it, if you live long enough, you’re probably going to end up providing some nursing care. I know when to push back. I know how to make allies.

Sure, I have fleetingly thought that providing some type of healthcare management would be a good service to offer. But I’m guessing that it’s more gratifying when the care you’re providing is for someone you care for.

I’m not applying for the job in Harvard Magazine. For one thing, they want someone with a scientific background, so I don’t qualify. It’s in Manhattan, and I don’t live there. I’m not looking for full-time work (let alone a career change) at this point in my career. And I wouldn’t want to be this intensely and intimately involved with a family that was so wealthy and so ill and/or hypochondriacal and/or self-obsessed.

But what an interesting job…

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