has evolved from a state-based non-profit to a national non-profit to help people, caregivers, advocates, and others elevate the patient experience.
The Washington State Health Advocacy Association (WASHAA) grew out of a long–term passion to improve health care for individuals. Beth Droppert and Robin Shapiro, co-founders of the first state-wide, independent health advocate company (called Allied Health Advocates) created the organization, along with other community leaders.
In 2011, Beth and Robin organized a meeting to explore whether people in the greater Seattle, WA-area had an interest in collaborating around health advocacy. With little notice, 40 people participated, representing a cross-section of consumers and professionals including: health advocates, clinicians, consultants, insurance companies, insurance benefit organizations, academics, students, consumers and others. The discussion was robust.
Everyone loved the idea of health advocacy and wanted to be involved in bringing health advocacy to patients but there were several gaps:
In 2012, a small group gathered together to start meeting monthly to further explore and identify the needs and interests of this diverse group. The monthly group grew into a Board of Directors who started WASHAA, including co-founder and part-time volunteer executive director Io Dolka. The initial name of the organization was the Washington State Health Advocates Association.
Formed in Washington state as a Charity, WASHAA successfully won 501 (c3) designation. The organization has always sponsored a variety of programs and events that help patients, caregivers, advocates and professionals learn and grow health advocacy skills. More than 50 people participated in the organization’s 2013 First Annual Meeting, and we have annually offered a meeting focusedon a big topic or issue related to health advocacy that now includes several hundred participants.
Today, HealthAdvocateX is overseen by a Board of Directors and includes a part-time Operations Manager and General Counsel.