Navigating today’s healthcare system can be challenging for anyone, but for older adults, it can be especially difficult. From scheduling appointments to engaging with clinicians to interpreting health insurance coverage, trying to secure the best medical care can be overwhelming, resulting in poor clinical outcomes, emotional distress, and reduced quality of life.
Oncology Practice Management (OPM) recently interviewed Nancy A. Taylor, PharmD, BCPA, CSA, Owner, Taylormade Senior Advocacy & Consulting, LLC, who discussed the current challenges facing elderly patients and their loved ones and the services she provides to help make their healthcare journey an easier one.
OPM: Tell us about your professional background and what led to your decision to open your advocacy and consulting business.
Dr Taylor: I have been a pharmacist for almost 20 years, and I have worked most of that time in community pharmacy (ie, retail pharmacy). In addition, I have some experience in skilled and long-term care and managing the pharmacy needs of certain facilities. I am also a board-certified patient advocate and a certified senior advisor.
The story of how I opened Taylormade Senior Advocacy & Consulting, LLC really began 7 or 8 years ago. I knew that when I finally left retail pharmacy, I was going to move into the field of patient advocacy, with a focus on helping older adults. During my years as a pharmacist, I saw so many patients who did not have a dedicated person to assist them. When they would come into the pharmacy to fill their prescriptions, I discovered that many of them were carrying heavy burdens related to various health situations. They were very disheartened and at the point where they didn’t know what else to do. I only had a short time to counsel them, and it was not enough. I knew that I could do more if I did not have the time constraints of a corporate job.
Nancy A. Taylor, PharmD, BCPA, CSA
I knew it was time to step out from behind the pharmacy counter and into a collaborative union with these individuals. I needed to be able to give them my time and expertise to keep them from bottoming out.
—Nancy A. Taylor, PharmD, BCPA, CSA
It broke my heart when I heard their stories. As a community pharmacist, I had known many of these individuals for years. I would see them in the grocery store or the gas station in town, and they would tell me, “I saw you the other day in the pharmacy and I thought I’d stop by and say hello, but you looked so busy, I didn’t want to interrupt you.”
That was not what I wanted to hear. I would tell them, “Oh, please interrupt me. Come by and say hello, I am here for you.” And when I started getting more of those types of comments from my long-time patients, it was clear that I needed to make a change. If they felt they did not have access to me, I felt as though I wasn’t doing my job. I was working for a company instead of working for my patients. I knew it was time to step out from behind the pharmacy counter and into a collaborative union with these individuals. I needed to be able to give them my time and expertise to keep them from bottoming out.
I left my corporate job in the spring of 2021 and by January of 2022, I was able to open Taylormade Senior Advocacy & Consulting, LLC.
OPM: What are some of the services you offer to help individuals navigate the healthcare system?
Dr Taylor: I tell people that I am really in the HOPE business. And this goes back a long way. I grew up in a family-owned pharmacy. My father was the pharmacist, and I was able to observe the interactions he had with his patients. They would come into the pharmacy to get their prescriptions filled, and many times, they were feeling sad, angry, or defeated. My father would take the time to really listen to them. When he was done filling their prescriptions, he would step down from the pharmacy counter and talk with them. I would see them smile, and sometimes I would hear some laughter. I always saw a handshake. When they left, they were standing a little prouder.
This happened so many times, I finally asked my father about it. I said, “What are you saying to them? They come in one way, but they leave another way.” He told me, “Nancy, you need to remember that we are not just dispensing medications, we are dispensing hope. Your empathy, compassion, and sense of humor are as much medicine as are pills and creams.” That has stayed with me all these years.
So, when I say that I am in the HOPE business, I really mean it. I provide hope to my clients by giving them back their confidence and a sense of control, which is what we all want when we are in a situation where we feel overwhelmed. I offer hope through 2 different pathways: one-on-one guidance and group workshops.
In my one-on-one guidance with clients and their families, we create a foundation of hope by designing and implementing personalized healthcare action plans. These action plans contain 1 or more of the following services:
- Collaborative deliberation
- Provider and/or care coordination
- Comprehensive clinical medication review
- Medication therapy management
- Medicare education and drug plan selection.
The plans are as unique as each client, based on their individual goals and timelines. Perhaps we need to coordinate their providers, or even find them new ones. Maybe we need to establish a medication management system.
Many times, I help clients’ families implement these plans. We evaluate potential barriers to care. I find out if they are able overcome some of these barriers by themselves or if they need assistance. Then, we select providers and services needed to help them attain their goals.
With my group workshops, I work with employers to help them find solutions for their employees who are in caregiver roles. Many caregivers are still in the workforce and must make the difficult decision of whether to go to work or stay home and care for loved ones. We are seeing employers lose long-time employees because they need to take care of their parents or grandparents. I partner with employers by providing virtual or in-person workshops for their employee caregivers. I give them resources and tools they can use at home to alleviate stressful situations so they can have a more focused and rewarding career.
Some of the signature workshops I offer include the following:
- Safe Transitions of Care
- How Many Medications Are Too Many?
- Don’t Navigate Healthcare Alone
- Safe & Sound in the Hospital
- Your Advanced Care Plan: Making It Uniquely YOU.
In my one-on-one guidance with clients and their families, we create a foundation of hope by designing and implementing personalized healthcare action plans.
—Nancy A. Taylor, PharmD, BCPA, CSA
OPM: Are there misconceptions regarding what a health advocate can and cannot do?
Dr Taylor: In healthcare, the term “advocate” is used a lot. Patients may be familiar with advocates who work for an insurance company or a hospital (sometimes referred to as “case managers”). However, these professionals must work within the confines of their institutions, so they can only go so far in terms of the services they provide. As a result, people sometimes have difficulty understanding that as an independent patient advocate, I work for the client and am not confined by an institution and therefore may be able to find alternative solutions or collaborate with other advocates to further the client’s resolution.
If I realize that an individual has a need that I am not able to help them with, I have an extensive network of specialized niche advocates who I can partner with for solutions. I am more than happy to get one of my colleagues involved; I am not going to turn someone away by saying, “I’m sorry, I can’t help you.”
During my initial consultation with potential clients, I try to get an overall picture of what they are going through and the types of services they need. Then I tell them, “Yes, I can help you,” or “Yes, I can help you, I have a colleague that specializes in this type of situation.”
OPM: In your opinion, what are the greatest challenges facing elderly patients?
Dr Taylor: I think the changes that are being made to Medicare will present huge challenges for our aging population. The government is going to have to do something to revamp this program. It was never meant to go this long, and the money is going to run out at some point. What I see coming down the line is that individuals are going to be tasked with picking up more of the tab, as are private insurance companies. We cannot pay for all the people that are now retiring and turning 65 years of age, and our population is getting older. The size of families continues to shrink, so we do not have enough people entering the workforce to provide the necessary funds.
We are seeing an increase in retirees choosing Medicare Advantage plans. The government is in favor of this because the burden of cost shifts to a private company. We might see a little more push that way; only time will tell. But we are definitely going to see patients taking on a lot more financial responsibility for their portion of Medicare coverage.
OPM: What is the best way for individuals or organizations to contact you if they are interested in your services?
Dr Taylor: They can email me at