Vital Signs

March 22, 2016

VIDEO: Employer Client Testimonial

Every once in awhile our clients give us their perspectives on partnering with Best Doctors and allow us to share them in a video. Cory Fitts is the Benefits Director at Hines Interests and took a couple of minutes to discuss what drove her team’s decision in selecting the Best Doctors program:

Cory touches on many of the themes we hear from our clients all the time. Just to highlight a few—

  • As an employer, their goal is to help make their staff better consumers of health care and provide the tools to ensure the right diagnosis and right treatment
  • They further want to demonstrate to their leadership team that they are making a true impact on their employees, and they have the reporting and results to prove it
  • One theme we hear constantly: Best Doctors has been one of the easiest programs to implement and manage, owing to our many years of experience and hundreds of clients
  • After an extensive review of the marketplace, including consulting their peers, they found that Best Doctors was the best in class partner

It’s always gratifying when clients share their first person perspectives on why they selected Best Doctors and how the program helps address their specific challenges.

Every once in awhile our clients give us their perspectives on partnering with Best Doctors and allow us to share them in a video. Cory Fitts is the Benefits Director at Hines Interests and took a couple of minutes to discuss what drove her team’s decision in selecting the Best Doctors program:

Cory touches on many of the themes we hear from our clients all the time. Just to highlight a few—

  • As an employer, their goal is to help make their staff better consumers of health care and provide the tools to ensure the right diagnosis and right treatment
  • They further want to demonstrate to their leadership team that they are making a true impact on their employees, and they have the reporting and results to prove it
  • One theme we hear constantly: Best Doctors has been one of the easiest programs to implement and manage, owing to our many years of experience and hundreds of clients
  • After an extensive review of the marketplace, including consulting their peers, they found that Best Doctors was the best in class partner

It’s always gratifying when clients share their first person perspectives on why they selected Best Doctors and how the program helps address their specific challenges.

November 18, 2015

Are Seniors to Blame?

A recent Globe and Mail article’s startling headline “Canada’s health-care system braces for hike in costs with influx of seniors” appears to point the finger at the aging boomer demographic, stating that because the senior demographic is growing exponentially in Canada, this will cost Canadian taxpayers and governments more in health care dollars.

It’s inevitable that as we age we require more medical care. And the more health care needed, the greater the expense. However this information begs to question – what exactly makes up the hike in costs? After doing a little research, it became clearer to me that the issue isn’t necessarily the demographic, but rather how government coffers are spent.

The infographic below (courtesy of CIHI - the full report can be found here) shows that the largest health expenditures are for Hospitals, Physicians and Drugs. And it’s no surprise that when seniors’ health begins to decline, this is typically where the costs end up.

Where are Canada's health care dollars going?

Picture this: a boomer has heart palpitations, goes to his family doctor (PHYSICIANS), is referred to a cardiologist (PHYSICIANS) who diagnoses him with heart disease and prescribes medications (DRUGS). As the months and years go by, the medications cease to assist and the patient is hospitalized after a triple-bypass surgery (HOSPITALS). Unfortunately this is an all-too common scenario.

But what would happen if the boomer were regularly seeing a personal trainer and nutritionist? Maybe the palpitations wouldn’t appear in the first place. Or if the patient had received an alternate opinion on the treatment prescribed by the cardiologist? Maybe the medication would have been sustainable.

What would happen if we invested more in alternative or preventative health care? Maybe seniors who don’t require acute care can go to a long-term care or rehab facility, instead of occupying very expensive hospital beds. Maybe instead of going through costly procedures, Canadians can get a second opinion and learn that there are more economical (yet equally successful) alternatives for treatment.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s not on whom we’re spending our health care dollars, but rather how we are spending them.

A recent Globe and Mail article’s startling headline “Canada’s health-care system braces for hike in costs with influx of seniors” appears to point the finger at the aging boomer demographic, stating that because the senior demographic is growing exponentially in Canada, this will cost Canadian taxpayers and governments more in health care dollars.

It’s inevitable that as we age we require more medical care. And the more health care needed, the greater the expense. However this information begs to question – what exactly makes up the hike in costs? After doing a little research, it became clearer to me that the issue isn’t necessarily the demographic, but rather how government coffers are spent.

The infographic below (courtesy of CIHI - the full report can be found here) shows that the largest health expenditures are for Hospitals, Physicians and Drugs. And it’s no surprise that when seniors’ health begins to decline, this is typically where the costs end up.

Where are Canada's health care dollars going?

Picture this: a boomer has heart palpitations, goes to his family doctor (PHYSICIANS), is referred to a cardiologist (PHYSICIANS) who diagnoses him with heart disease and prescribes medications (DRUGS). As the months and years go by, the medications cease to assist and the patient is hospitalized after a triple-bypass surgery (HOSPITALS). Unfortunately this is an all-too common scenario.

But what would happen if the boomer were regularly seeing a personal trainer and nutritionist? Maybe the palpitations wouldn’t appear in the first place. Or if the patient had received an alternate opinion on the treatment prescribed by the cardiologist? Maybe the medication would have been sustainable.

What would happen if we invested more in alternative or preventative health care? Maybe seniors who don’t require acute care can go to a long-term care or rehab facility, instead of occupying very expensive hospital beds. Maybe instead of going through costly procedures, Canadians can get a second opinion and learn that there are more economical (yet equally successful) alternatives for treatment.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s not on whom we’re spending our health care dollars, but rather how we are spending them.

October 23, 2015

What a Pain in the Back

As I begin to write this blog post, I realize I’m the epitome of what “NOT” to do when it comes to posture and back pain: I sit hunched over my desk, which is where I’ve been for several hours, without a break or change in position.backache 72 dpi

Fortunately I’m still young-ish and have an opportunity to fix things. And I should try, because the statistics are startling: back pain is a common problem among adults affecting up to 80% of people at least once in their lifetime. Moreover, the cost of medical expenditures alone for low back pain are estimated between $6 and $12 billion annually with additional costs associated with the impact on society due to the loss in worker productivity from time off work and the associated disability payments.

It seems though there are three main causes for back pain across Canada:

  • Our aging population
  • Our growing waistlines
  • Our increasingly sedentary lifestyles

There’s obviously nothing we can do about our aging population (although my fingers are crossed for the miracle elixir to be on store shelves soon!) but the other two factors are definitely preventable.

To keep our BMI (which is our Body Mass Index, a way to calculate our weight in proportion to our height, age and sex) down, the simple solution is to eat sensibly and maintain a level of physical activity for at least 15-30 minutes a day (although we all know it’s not “that” simple especially this time of year with pumpkin pie and candy corn…but we can at least try)!

But other than changing your career to become a landscaper or mechanic, how else does one “prevent” the sedentary action of sitting at your computer all day? Stats show that over 75% of workers sit for long periods of time – so this affects most people.

First and foremost – take breaks. Instead of sending an email or picking up the phone to your colleague who literally sits 100 feet away from you, walk over! It is said that a 5-minute break every hour is better for the health and safety of workers. Posture at your desk is also very important, and so is the design of your workstation. And if you have an open (and perhaps private if you prefer) space at your office, you can try some quick back and core strengthening exercises – it’s said that training your core muscles is extremely important in stabilizing and sparing undue stress on the spine.

In the long run, taking on these simple tactics and minor changes are definitely worth preventing years of lower back pain and anguish in the future. I know I’ll try it!

As I begin to write this blog post, I realize I’m the epitome of what “NOT” to do when it comes to posture and back pain: I sit hunched over my desk, which is where I’ve been for several hours, without a break or change in position.backache 72 dpi

Fortunately I’m still young-ish and have an opportunity to fix things. And I should try, because the statistics are startling: back pain is a common problem among adults affecting up to 80% of people at least once in their lifetime. Moreover, the cost of medical expenditures alone for low back pain are estimated between $6 and $12 billion annually with additional costs associated with the impact on society due to the loss in worker productivity from time off work and the associated disability payments.

It seems though there are three main causes for back pain across Canada:

  • Our aging population
  • Our growing waistlines
  • Our increasingly sedentary lifestyles

There’s obviously nothing we can do about our aging population (although my fingers are crossed for the miracle elixir to be on store shelves soon!) but the other two factors are definitely preventable.

To keep our BMI (which is our Body Mass Index, a way to calculate our weight in proportion to our height, age and sex) down, the simple solution is to eat sensibly and maintain a level of physical activity for at least 15-30 minutes a day (although we all know it’s not “that” simple especially this time of year with pumpkin pie and candy corn…but we can at least try)!

But other than changing your career to become a landscaper or mechanic, how else does one “prevent” the sedentary action of sitting at your computer all day? Stats show that over 75% of workers sit for long periods of time – so this affects most people.

First and foremost – take breaks. Instead of sending an email or picking up the phone to your colleague who literally sits 100 feet away from you, walk over! It is said that a 5-minute break every hour is better for the health and safety of workers. Posture at your desk is also very important, and so is the design of your workstation. And if you have an open (and perhaps private if you prefer) space at your office, you can try some quick back and core strengthening exercises – it’s said that training your core muscles is extremely important in stabilizing and sparing undue stress on the spine.

In the long run, taking on these simple tactics and minor changes are definitely worth preventing years of lower back pain and anguish in the future. I know I’ll try it!

October 21, 2015

Anatomy of a Second Opinion

We like to say that not all second opinions are created equally. The caliber of the expert reviewing the case, plus all the careful and necessary steps to support the process, are what sets the Best Doctors second opinion apart. But rather than just tell it, why not show the anatomy of a second opinion

Best_Doctors_Second_Opinion

We like to say that not all second opinions are created equally. The caliber of the expert reviewing the case, plus all the careful and necessary steps to support the process, are what sets the Best Doctors second opinion apart. But rather than just tell it, why not show the anatomy of a second opinion

Best_Doctors_Second_Opinion

September 30, 2015

Takeaways: Improving Diagnosis in Health Care

The new report Improving Diagnosis in Health Care, released by the National Academies of Medicine (formerly IOM), has quickly gained tremendous attention in the medical community, mainstream press, and Best Doctors’ own social media channels. That’s because the report – which addresses the scourge of diagnostic error head-on – sounds many of the same notes that Best Doctors has been for years, and the message is resonating. So much ground is covered in the report, but there are a few key themes and takeaways to highlight.

DiagnosisFINAL.inddAt the outset, the new report makes clear that diagnosis is a collaborative effort and that patients themselves are central to finding a solution to diagnostic error. This is significant, as it makes clear that neither doctors nor policy makers have all the answers, but rather that patients have a voice and role in improving their care and outcomes. The report then defines diagnostic error as “the failure to (a) establish an accurate and timely explanation of the patient’s health problem(s) or (b) communicate that explanation to the patient.” Again, this is encouraging. The definition suggests that correct diagnosis isn’t just limited to naming the disease, but also making the patient central to that process.

There are a number of goals and recommendations put forward in the report. Some – like better medical education, better technology, and additional funding for researching diagnostic errors – are predictable. Others are more novel and ambitious, like designing a payment and care delivery environment that supports the diagnostic process. And while there are some measures that amount to top-down policy changes (like changing medical liability laws), what’s perhaps most interesting to me is that the lion’s share of the recommendations in the report can be implemented on a grassroots level, with individual health systems experimenting, learning, and best practice sharing with others.

I think if there are 3 salient points to take away from the new report, they would be—

  • Diagnostic error is real, and a huge contributor to ill health and increased health costs in the United States – 17 percent of adverse hospital events may owe to misdiagnosis
  • Despite previous reports on the subject and the formation of advocacy groups, diagnostic error remains a “blind spot” in our health care system
  • Improvement is possible, and the report provides recent examples of organizations pioneering innovative solutions and achieving early success

Diagnostic accuracy is vital, because when the diagnosis is wrong, everything that follows may be as well. Best Doctors has been the leader in medical advisory services, which help ensure the right diagnosis and treatment for any type of medical condition. A lot still needs to be done to improve diagnosis in health care; we look forward to being part of the conversation, and ultimately, the solution.

The new report Improving Diagnosis in Health Care, released by the National Academies of Medicine (formerly IOM), has quickly gained tremendous attention in the medical community, mainstream press, and Best Doctors’ own social media channels. That’s because the report – which addresses the scourge of diagnostic error head-on – sounds many of the same notes that Best Doctors has been for years, and the message is resonating. So much ground is covered in the report, but there are a few key themes and takeaways to highlight.

DiagnosisFINAL.inddAt the outset, the new report makes clear that diagnosis is a collaborative effort and that patients themselves are central to finding a solution to diagnostic error. This is significant, as it makes clear that neither doctors nor policy makers have all the answers, but rather that patients have a voice and role in improving their care and outcomes. The report then defines diagnostic error as “the failure to (a) establish an accurate and timely explanation of the patient’s health problem(s) or (b) communicate that explanation to the patient.” Again, this is encouraging. The definition suggests that correct diagnosis isn’t just limited to naming the disease, but also making the patient central to that process.

There are a number of goals and recommendations put forward in the report. Some – like better medical education, better technology, and additional funding for researching diagnostic errors – are predictable. Others are more novel and ambitious, like designing a payment and care delivery environment that supports the diagnostic process. And while there are some measures that amount to top-down policy changes (like changing medical liability laws), what’s perhaps most interesting to me is that the lion’s share of the recommendations in the report can be implemented on a grassroots level, with individual health systems experimenting, learning, and best practice sharing with others.

I think if there are 3 salient points to take away from the new report, they would be—

  • Diagnostic error is real, and a huge contributor to ill health and increased health costs in the United States – 17 percent of adverse hospital events may owe to misdiagnosis
  • Despite previous reports on the subject and the formation of advocacy groups, diagnostic error remains a “blind spot” in our health care system
  • Improvement is possible, and the report provides recent examples of organizations pioneering innovative solutions and achieving early success

Diagnostic accuracy is vital, because when the diagnosis is wrong, everything that follows may be as well. Best Doctors has been the leader in medical advisory services, which help ensure the right diagnosis and treatment for any type of medical condition. A lot still needs to be done to improve diagnosis in health care; we look forward to being part of the conversation, and ultimately, the solution.

August 11, 2015

Formula Feeding vs. Breastfeeding: A Few Things to Consider

breastfeeding bottle 72 dpi

Having a baby means making a lot of decisions. What colour should you paint the nursery? Should you go with disposable or cloth diapers? Should you co-sleep with your little one or put baby to sleep in a crib? The list is exhaustive. One of the most important decisions facing new mothers is how to feed their baby: will mom breastfeed exclusively or opt to formula feed instead?

Considering the majority of a baby’s first months of life revolve around frequent feedings, this is a huge and often overwhelming decision, and unfortunately in many cases new mothers are making this decision without much support. According to a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health, many new moms do not receive advice from physicians on various aspects of infant care, including breastfeeding.

August is National Breastfeeding Awareness month, shining a spotlight on the benefits of breastfeeding, which has been linked to everything from a lower risk of ear infections to helping protect against Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

But while breastfeeding advocates say “breast is best,” for many new mothers nursing doesn’t come naturally and can be very difficult. In some cases, a woman may not produce enough breast milk or a baby may have trouble latching, making exclusive breastfeeding impossible.

If you or someone you know is having a baby, here are a few things to keep in mind when considering whether to breastfeed or formula feed.

Breastfeeding

  • Breastfeeding protects babies against several illnesses. Studies have even shown that breastfeeding can reduce a child’s risk of developing certain childhood cancers. Scientists believe antibodies in breast milk may give a boost to a baby’s immune system.
  • Breastfeeding may help children avoid diseases that strike later in life, such as type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • A German study published in 2009 found that breastfeeding (either exclusively or partially) is associated with a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Nursing triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin, which has been found to promote feelings of relaxation. Oxytocin released while nursing also helps the uterus contract after birth, resulting in less postpartum bleeding.
  • Breast milk is always readily available, is always the right temperature and is free. Breast milk also changes in composition to meet a baby’s changing needs as he grows.

Formula feeding

  • Other caregivers can give a bottle to a formula fed baby, allowing mom to share feeding duties. This can be especially beneficial during nighttime feedings.
  • For mothers who are either unable to breastfeed or choose not to, formula is a healthy alternative, providing babies with the nutrients they need to grow and thrive.
  • Formula is less digestible than breast milk, so formula-fed babies usually need to eat less often than breastfed babies (this can make scheduling feedings easier.)
  • Moms who formula feed don’t need to worry about their own diets. Moms who breastfeed may have to avoid certain foods that their babies can’t tolerate.

At the end of the day, it’s important to keep in mind that new mothers have a choice about how to feed their babies and whatever choice a mother makes is the right one for her and her little one. If a new mom has any questions about feeding her child, Best Doctors is here to provide resources and support, alongside her healthcare practitioner. Hopefully we can help make the bumpy journey into parenthood just a little bit smoother.

breastfeeding bottle 72 dpi

Having a baby means making a lot of decisions. What colour should you paint the nursery? Should you go with disposable or cloth diapers? Should you co-sleep with your little one or put baby to sleep in a crib? The list is exhaustive. One of the most important decisions facing new mothers is how to feed their baby: will mom breastfeed exclusively or opt to formula feed instead?

Considering the majority of a baby’s first months of life revolve around frequent feedings, this is a huge and often overwhelming decision, and unfortunately in many cases new mothers are making this decision without much support. According to a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health, many new moms do not receive advice from physicians on various aspects of infant care, including breastfeeding.

August is National Breastfeeding Awareness month, shining a spotlight on the benefits of breastfeeding, which has been linked to everything from a lower risk of ear infections to helping protect against Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

But while breastfeeding advocates say “breast is best,” for many new mothers nursing doesn’t come naturally and can be very difficult. In some cases, a woman may not produce enough breast milk or a baby may have trouble latching, making exclusive breastfeeding impossible.

If you or someone you know is having a baby, here are a few things to keep in mind when considering whether to breastfeed or formula feed.

Breastfeeding

  • Breastfeeding protects babies against several illnesses. Studies have even shown that breastfeeding can reduce a child’s risk of developing certain childhood cancers. Scientists believe antibodies in breast milk may give a boost to a baby’s immune system.
  • Breastfeeding may help children avoid diseases that strike later in life, such as type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • A German study published in 2009 found that breastfeeding (either exclusively or partially) is associated with a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Nursing triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin, which has been found to promote feelings of relaxation. Oxytocin released while nursing also helps the uterus contract after birth, resulting in less postpartum bleeding.
  • Breast milk is always readily available, is always the right temperature and is free. Breast milk also changes in composition to meet a baby’s changing needs as he grows.

Formula feeding

  • Other caregivers can give a bottle to a formula fed baby, allowing mom to share feeding duties. This can be especially beneficial during nighttime feedings.
  • For mothers who are either unable to breastfeed or choose not to, formula is a healthy alternative, providing babies with the nutrients they need to grow and thrive.
  • Formula is less digestible than breast milk, so formula-fed babies usually need to eat less often than breastfed babies (this can make scheduling feedings easier.)
  • Moms who formula feed don’t need to worry about their own diets. Moms who breastfeed may have to avoid certain foods that their babies can’t tolerate.

At the end of the day, it’s important to keep in mind that new mothers have a choice about how to feed their babies and whatever choice a mother makes is the right one for her and her little one. If a new mom has any questions about feeding her child, Best Doctors is here to provide resources and support, alongside her healthcare practitioner. Hopefully we can help make the bumpy journey into parenthood just a little bit smoother.

July 28, 2015

Meet the Team: Case Coordinators

Our Meet the Team series concludes today with a closer look at the Case Coordinator role at Best Doctors. We asked two long-serving colleagues, Val and Tristan, to reflect on their experiences with our members. In particular, we asked them what they often see members struggling with the most; they remind us that every member is unique, but that what so many have in common is they don’t know where to turn for guidance on important health issues. The case coordinators wear a variety of different hats and interact with members of every sort, so they can truly speak from experience.

It’s been a pleasure sharing videos of colleagues in our Meet the Team series. It’s a rare look behind the curtain, which most people wouldn’t otherwise see. As Tristan points out, much of the member’s experience with us takes place from the comfort of their own living room. We learn so much about them; by sharing the perspectives of colleagues in these videos, we hope that members can learn something about us as well.

So, please, meet the team…

Our Meet the Team series concludes today with a closer look at the Case Coordinator role at Best Doctors. We asked two long-serving colleagues, Val and Tristan, to reflect on their experiences with our members. In particular, we asked them what they often see members struggling with the most; they remind us that every member is unique, but that what so many have in common is they don’t know where to turn for guidance on important health issues. The case coordinators wear a variety of different hats and interact with members of every sort, so they can truly speak from experience.

It’s been a pleasure sharing videos of colleagues in our Meet the Team series. It’s a rare look behind the curtain, which most people wouldn’t otherwise see. As Tristan points out, much of the member’s experience with us takes place from the comfort of their own living room. We learn so much about them; by sharing the perspectives of colleagues in these videos, we hope that members can learn something about us as well.

So, please, meet the team…

July 10, 2015

Wearable technology: good or bad for our health?  

Wearable tech 72 dpiPersonal tech devices have become so closely intertwined with our day-to-day lives that it’s nearly impossible to imagine a time when the only gadget people carried was a watch.

Devices that promise to help us become healthier and enable us to obsessively monitor our current state of health are especially popular. If you’re not convinced, you need look no further than Fitbit’s recent initial public offering (IPO). After going public in mid-June, the company, which sells wearable fitness tracking devices, swiftly raised $732 million and is now valued at $4.1 billion, proving the appeal of wearable activity trackers extends far beyond hard-core health and fitness junkies (apparently, even President Barack Obama is a Fitbit fan).

Forget casually going for a stroll to get some fresh air or getting a good night’s rest – these days, we’re armed with devices that track exactly how many steps we’re logging every day and the precise amount of shut-eye we’re getting.

Activity trackers aren’t the only gadgets that are changing our behaviour and impacting our health. Smartphones, tablets and multi-tasking watches each affect us in different ways too.

This begs the question: is all this technology good or bad for our health? Perhaps unsurprisingly, the answer isn’t black or white. To gain a better understanding, let’s look at the pros and cons:

Pros

  • Some personal technology, like wearable activity trackers or fitness apps, encourage healthier habits and can inspire you to become more active, helping to change behaviour for the better.
  • Technology that allows you to set goals may make you feel more accountable for your health on a day-to-day basis.
  • Personal tech devices help track things like calories burned and calories ingested, making it easier to adhere to a weight loss plan.
  • Some health apps can assist in disease management – for instance, apps that collect blood pressure results by syncing wirelessly with a blood pressure monitor.

Cons

  • Some argue that being hyper-vigilant about every aspect of our daily activity and obsessively tracking and monitoring various metrics induces anxiety.
  • Technology that tracks activity and calories burned may not be completely accurate.
  • Personal technology has been linked to sleep issues. One study found that reading from a light-emitting device such as an e-reader before bedtime can shift the body’s natural clock and delay the onset of sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 95 percent of people engage in some form of screen-based technology close to bedtime at least a few times a week.

The bottom line

Whether personal tech devices are used in a way that is beneficial or harmful to our health ultimately depends on the user. Used properly, there are numerous advantages, whether it’s a health app that can assist you in managing a chronic condition or devices that can help you achieve your weight loss or fitness goals. The key, as with most things, may be to use devices in moderation and remember to shut down our gadgets so that we can properly shut down, which is crucial to maintaining our own optimal health.

 

 

Wearable tech 72 dpiPersonal tech devices have become so closely intertwined with our day-to-day lives that it’s nearly impossible to imagine a time when the only gadget people carried was a watch.

Devices that promise to help us become healthier and enable us to obsessively monitor our current state of health are especially popular. If you’re not convinced, you need look no further than Fitbit’s recent initial public offering (IPO). After going public in mid-June, the company, which sells wearable fitness tracking devices, swiftly raised $732 million and is now valued at $4.1 billion, proving the appeal of wearable activity trackers extends far beyond hard-core health and fitness junkies (apparently, even President Barack Obama is a Fitbit fan).

Forget casually going for a stroll to get some fresh air or getting a good night’s rest – these days, we’re armed with devices that track exactly how many steps we’re logging every day and the precise amount of shut-eye we’re getting.

Activity trackers aren’t the only gadgets that are changing our behaviour and impacting our health. Smartphones, tablets and multi-tasking watches each affect us in different ways too.

This begs the question: is all this technology good or bad for our health? Perhaps unsurprisingly, the answer isn’t black or white. To gain a better understanding, let’s look at the pros and cons:

Pros

  • Some personal technology, like wearable activity trackers or fitness apps, encourage healthier habits and can inspire you to become more active, helping to change behaviour for the better.
  • Technology that allows you to set goals may make you feel more accountable for your health on a day-to-day basis.
  • Personal tech devices help track things like calories burned and calories ingested, making it easier to adhere to a weight loss plan.
  • Some health apps can assist in disease management – for instance, apps that collect blood pressure results by syncing wirelessly with a blood pressure monitor.

Cons

  • Some argue that being hyper-vigilant about every aspect of our daily activity and obsessively tracking and monitoring various metrics induces anxiety.
  • Technology that tracks activity and calories burned may not be completely accurate.
  • Personal technology has been linked to sleep issues. One study found that reading from a light-emitting device such as an e-reader before bedtime can shift the body’s natural clock and delay the onset of sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 95 percent of people engage in some form of screen-based technology close to bedtime at least a few times a week.

The bottom line

Whether personal tech devices are used in a way that is beneficial or harmful to our health ultimately depends on the user. Used properly, there are numerous advantages, whether it’s a health app that can assist you in managing a chronic condition or devices that can help you achieve your weight loss or fitness goals. The key, as with most things, may be to use devices in moderation and remember to shut down our gadgets so that we can properly shut down, which is crucial to maintaining our own optimal health.

 

 

June 10, 2015

Taking Action Against Cancer

PreventionMost of us have been touched by cancer in some way, whether it has affected us personally or we have a friend, family member or colleague who has faced a cancer diagnosis. Perhaps this isn’t too surprising, considering the disease is the leading cause of death in Canada[1] and the second leading cause of death in the United States[2], with the number of people it impacts projected to rise dramatically in the coming years.

Cancer is expected to claim the lives of nearly 600,000 people in the US in 2015 and more than 1.6 million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed[3] while in Canada, an estimated 78,000 deaths from cancer will occur in 2015 and nearly 200,000 new cases of cancer are projected to occur[4].

Although many advances have been made in understanding and treating this devastating disease, as the population ages and grows, the number of cancer cases is expected to skyrocket: in the US, the number of new cancer cases that occur each year is expected to rise 55 percent by 2030[5] and in Canada, new cancer cases are expected to increase by about 40 percent by 2030[6].

Although these figures are bleak, there is a silver lining. Making lifestyle changes and adopting healthy behaviours can help prevent many cancer cases.

Consider this:

  •  All cancers caused by tobacco use and alcohol consumption can be prevented completely. To put this into even greater perspective, consider that in 2015, almost 171,000 of the nearly 600,000 estimated cancer deaths in the US will be caused by tobacco smoking, according to the American Cancer Society.
  • It’s estimated that up to one-third of cancer cases that occur in economically developed countries are related to being overweight or obese, physically inactive, and/or having poor nutrition, according to the World Cancer Research Fund. Lifestyle changes and healthy habits can go a long way towards preventing cancer cases related to these factors.
  • Many cancers related to HPV, hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus and HIV can be prevented by behavioural changes, vaccination or by treating the infection.
  • Many of the skin cancer cases diagnosed in the US and Canada each year could be prevented by protecting the skin from the sun and avoiding indoor tanning.
  • Screening can help prevent colorectal and cervical cancers by allowing for the detection and removal of precancerous lesions. Screening can also allow you to detect cancer early before symptoms appear, resulting in less extensive treatment and more favourable outcomes. Screening is also known to reduce mortality for cancers of the breast, colon, rectum, cervix, and lung.

Armed with all this information, how can you try to prevent yourself from becoming a statistic?

The first thing you can do is take charge of your health by taking care of yourself. While preventive measures can help tremendously, the risk of cancer does increase as we age. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer and you’re not sure where to turn, Best Doctors is here to help. In fact, in Canada, 20 percent of Best Doctors’ InterConsultation cases are oncology and hematology related. Whether you require assistance locating a specialist or need help better understanding your diagnosis, Best Doctors can guide you in the right direction.

 

[1] Statistics Canada (http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-625-x/2014001/article/11896-eng.htm)
[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm)
[3] American Cancer Society (http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@editorial/documents/document/acspc-044552.pdf)
[4] Canadian Cancer Society (http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-101/cancer-statistics-at-a-glance/?region=on)
[5] American Institute for Cancer Research (http://www.aicr.org/press/press-releases/us-cancer-cases-rising.html)
[6] Canadian Cancer Society (http://www.cancer.ca/en/about-us/for-media/media-releases/national/2015/canadian-cancer-statistics-2015/?region=on)

PreventionMost of us have been touched by cancer in some way, whether it has affected us personally or we have a friend, family member or colleague who has faced a cancer diagnosis. Perhaps this isn’t too surprising, considering the disease is the leading cause of death in Canada[1] and the second leading cause of death in the United States[2], with the number of people it impacts projected to rise dramatically in the coming years.

Cancer is expected to claim the lives of nearly 600,000 people in the US in 2015 and more than 1.6 million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed[3] while in Canada, an estimated 78,000 deaths from cancer will occur in 2015 and nearly 200,000 new cases of cancer are projected to occur[4].

Although many advances have been made in understanding and treating this devastating disease, as the population ages and grows, the number of cancer cases is expected to skyrocket: in the US, the number of new cancer cases that occur each year is expected to rise 55 percent by 2030[5] and in Canada, new cancer cases are expected to increase by about 40 percent by 2030[6].

Although these figures are bleak, there is a silver lining. Making lifestyle changes and adopting healthy behaviours can help prevent many cancer cases.

Consider this:

  •  All cancers caused by tobacco use and alcohol consumption can be prevented completely. To put this into even greater perspective, consider that in 2015, almost 171,000 of the nearly 600,000 estimated cancer deaths in the US will be caused by tobacco smoking, according to the American Cancer Society.
  • It’s estimated that up to one-third of cancer cases that occur in economically developed countries are related to being overweight or obese, physically inactive, and/or having poor nutrition, according to the World Cancer Research Fund. Lifestyle changes and healthy habits can go a long way towards preventing cancer cases related to these factors.
  • Many cancers related to HPV, hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus and HIV can be prevented by behavioural changes, vaccination or by treating the infection.
  • Many of the skin cancer cases diagnosed in the US and Canada each year could be prevented by protecting the skin from the sun and avoiding indoor tanning.
  • Screening can help prevent colorectal and cervical cancers by allowing for the detection and removal of precancerous lesions. Screening can also allow you to detect cancer early before symptoms appear, resulting in less extensive treatment and more favourable outcomes. Screening is also known to reduce mortality for cancers of the breast, colon, rectum, cervix, and lung.

Armed with all this information, how can you try to prevent yourself from becoming a statistic?

The first thing you can do is take charge of your health by taking care of yourself. While preventive measures can help tremendously, the risk of cancer does increase as we age. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer and you’re not sure where to turn, Best Doctors is here to help. In fact, in Canada, 20 percent of Best Doctors’ InterConsultation cases are oncology and hematology related. Whether you require assistance locating a specialist or need help better understanding your diagnosis, Best Doctors can guide you in the right direction.

 

[1] Statistics Canada (http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-625-x/2014001/article/11896-eng.htm)
[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm)
[3] American Cancer Society (http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@editorial/documents/document/acspc-044552.pdf)
[4] Canadian Cancer Society (http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-101/cancer-statistics-at-a-glance/?region=on)
[5] American Institute for Cancer Research (http://www.aicr.org/press/press-releases/us-cancer-cases-rising.html)
[6] Canadian Cancer Society (http://www.cancer.ca/en/about-us/for-media/media-releases/national/2015/canadian-cancer-statistics-2015/?region=on)

May 21, 2015

Meet the Team: Find a Best Doctor

The series continues. Today please meet Arvin, a Find Best Doctor Coordinator who’s been with the company for over five years. Many of our members contact Best Doctors in need of a virtual second opinion by an expert, but others are looking for a referral to see the expert in person, and that’s where Arvin and his team come in.

The FBD team, as they’re affectionately known, makes sure that the expert specialists meet all the members’ requirements before referring, but they also handle the administrative work that can sometimes be burdensome and slow things down. And while many members do contact us to request a referral after an insurance change or relocation, as Arvin points out, some members are in crisis and need to be connected with expert medical help … in their area, in their insurance plan, and accepting new patients.

The staff at Best Doctors have such a diversity of backgrounds, but they come together as a family to deliver for our members, as I hope you’ll see. So, please, meet the team

The series continues. Today please meet Arvin, a Find Best Doctor Coordinator who’s been with the company for over five years. Many of our members contact Best Doctors in need of a virtual second opinion by an expert, but others are looking for a referral to see the expert in person, and that’s where Arvin and his team come in.

The FBD team, as they’re affectionately known, makes sure that the expert specialists meet all the members’ requirements before referring, but they also handle the administrative work that can sometimes be burdensome and slow things down. And while many members do contact us to request a referral after an insurance change or relocation, as Arvin points out, some members are in crisis and need to be connected with expert medical help … in their area, in their insurance plan, and accepting new patients.

The staff at Best Doctors have such a diversity of backgrounds, but they come together as a family to deliver for our members, as I hope you’ll see. So, please, meet the team