Taking action and helping others certainly knows no age, as proven by 19-year-old Zachary Bohn, grandson of the late Santa Monica community leader John Bohn.
The college student is not only juggling his studies at USC, but is also the founder of Insight Patient Advocacy, a transportation and advocacy service for seniors that seeks to achieve safe and simplified health care by providing a middleman – an experienced medical advocate – between the patient and doctor in order to offer enhanced support and transparency.
“I actually came up with the idea when I was 14, when my grandfather [John Bohn] got sick,” Bohn explained. “My dad took him to the hospital two to three times a week. This whole idea was inspired by my grandpa.”
With the struggle to balance both family and work, the situation wound up placing an unexpected emotional and financial strain on Bohn’s family. Bohn realized that there could be a way for all parties – the caretaker, the patient, and the doctor – to help alleviate the tough circumstances.
“Insight Patient Advocacy enables medical students, gerontology students, nurses, and masters of health students, who go through an initial consultation with the caretaker and patient, establishing long-term and short-term health goals, to drive senior patients to their doctors, taking notes and recording the doctor’s appointment if they are permitted, and advocating for the patient as well as asking the doctor questions that the patient may be too anxious to ask,” Bohn said. “Then they drive the senior home and review the notes with the family members or caretakers.”
Although the concept of Insight Patient Advocacy fell into place when Bohn was younger, the organization finally took a tangible form when Bohn started his freshman year at USC a few months ago.
“I started utilizing campus resources to get this going and start hiring advocates,” Bohn said.
With a current team of about 30 advocates and a handful of staff members, Insight Patient Advocacy has had a promising start.
“We were one of 20 student-run companies in the nation to be selected for the Global Student Entrepreneurship Competition,” Bohn said.
Bohn highlighted some of the company’s numerous advantages, which have catalyzed such a successful beginning for Insight Patient Advocacy.
“A couple of benefits that the medical advocates give to the seniors is, firstly, transportation and assistance in going to the appointments,” Bohn said. “The advocates’ service also reduces caretaker burnout, because the patients are able to spend time with family members in the way that they’d like to: at the dinner table and in other, more ideal settings, not just at the doctor’s office.”
Bohn also elaborated on an underlying tension that exists during a typical doctor’s visit.
“There tends to be a culture of anxiety, a disassociation, or a communication gap between the doctor and patient, and this is sometimes due to a lack of medical knowledge,” Bohn explained.
The presence of a medical advocate aims to provide an objective experience, as a higher level of interaction is encouraged by asking questions and supporting the patient.
Overall, Insight Patient Advocacy seeks to solve a common issue that causes anxiety and stress among patients and their families, as “judgment is impaired and plans can go wrong” during a time of illness. The main goal of the medical advocates is to make doctors’ appointments both easier and safer for all patients.
For more information, visit insightpatientadvocacy.com.