Beacon Health Advocates: Concierge advocacy for cancer patients and caregivers

The pandemic presented unique challenges for those stricken with cancer. Medical resources are increasingly channeled toward those with COVID-19. Oncology patients can find themselves lost in the shuffle. Vital appointments may be rescheduled; treatments are being delayed. Quarantine protocols can make it difficult for the family to visit hospitalized loved ones. Throughout all these challenges, the experienced Beacon Advocates cut through the proverbial ‘red tape’ to chart a personalized treatment course for patients.

“Pandemic or no, we want what’s best for the patient, and we advocate for them to receive that,” Biafora says.

Lea Ann Biafora spotted the $25,000 mistake, in less than an hour. The founder and CEO of Beacon Oncology Nurse Advocates was assisting a cancer patient, and his caregiver, at the time; both had expressed confusion over recent medical charges, tests and diagnoses. A glance at the billing statement raised an immediate red flag.

The corresponding procedure had been coded incorrectly and she set forth, immediately, to right the snafu. Such revelations are just part of the job for Biafora, who founded Beacon in 2012 as a cancer care management company; today, she and her extensive nurse advocate team offer professional guidance and advocacy services. And though the $25,000 mistake is one she is glad to have remedied, it’s just one of many benefits of enlisting an advocate.

“We partner with cancer patients, and caregivers, on so many levels,” she says. “The goal is to eliminate any barriers to excellent care.”

Yes Beacon Advocates review, and audit, cancer-related medical billing errors, but this is just the tip of the cancer care iceberg. They also conduct comprehensive cancer case reviews and research clinical trials and new drugs. It’s their specialty, to tailor care coordination to the patient’s best interests; assistance in managing all aspects of life with cancer is the aim.

All Beacon Advocates are qualified oncology registered nurses and social workers. They review, audit and resolve cancer-related medical bill errors. Perhaps the most important service they provide, Biafora says, is the ability to assist in managing all aspects of life throughout the cancer journey. This includes a comprehensive case review that includes the latest drugs and clinical trial options.

“Our highly qualified team of oncology professionals serves as a beacon – a light of hope and guidance – during a difficult time,” she says.

Aside from pandemic concerns, Biafora points to the growing complexities in the health care, and insurance systems, as prime reasons to enlist an advocate’s help. Advancements in treatment options and clinical trial openings can be overwhelming to follow as well, she says. Her advocates’ ability to keep up-to-date on the latest breakthroughs ease caregiver fatigue.

Here’s how it works: Patients and/or caregivers can hire Beacon Advocates directly. Employers, and insurers, do sometimes foot the bill for advocacy, as do select oncology providers who seek additional support for care coordination. Once hired, an advocate thoroughly reviews the patient’s health history and works constructively with medical teams.

“We serve as navigators throughout the individual’s health care journey,” Biafora says. “We are health experts, and problem solvers and the patient’s goal is ours.”

Beacon Advocates help, even when the outcome is dire. Recently, an 80-year-old man asked his advocate to help him return to Canada; a dual citizen, he did not have any caregivers in the United States and his cancer was deemed terminal. Within days, his Beacon Advocate had accessed Canadian health insurance for the patient, organized transport – even in the midst of border closure – and corrected a medical error. The patient re-entered Canada on oxygen, which significantly improved his state of wellbeing. The advocate even made sure he had nutritious food to last him until his transport.

It’s this extra care that can make such a difference in a cancer patient’s journey. Beacon nurse advocates are comprised of a vetted team of experienced oncology specialists. They strive to be patient-centric, compassionate and collaborative and consider themselves to be true health concierges. Working together, with patients and caregivers, they look to achieve better-coordinated care.

“Ours is truly a concierge experience,” Biafora says. “We’re by the patient’s side as trusted advisors, making sure they receive the best cancer care possible.”


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