Vital Signs

May 06, 2015

Meet the Team: Member Service Representatives

Last month we introduced you to a pair of our member advocates; today I’d like you to meet Michelle and James, member service representatives at Best Doctors.

Anyone who has faced a medical challenge knows that there can be a lot of administrative hurdles and boxes to check on the way to getting the right care. Our MSRs are trained to help our members navigate their benefits issues and ensure their individual needs are addressed.

I wanted to find out about our MSRs’ day to day interactions with members, and that’s what they discuss in these short videos. It’s about more than phone calls and medical records; it’s about real people interacting with real people to achieve better health and peace of mind. So please, meet the team …

Last month we introduced you to a pair of our member advocates; today I’d like you to meet Michelle and James, member service representatives at Best Doctors.

Anyone who has faced a medical challenge knows that there can be a lot of administrative hurdles and boxes to check on the way to getting the right care. Our MSRs are trained to help our members navigate their benefits issues and ensure their individual needs are addressed.

I wanted to find out about our MSRs’ day to day interactions with members, and that’s what they discuss in these short videos. It’s about more than phone calls and medical records; it’s about real people interacting with real people to achieve better health and peace of mind. So please, meet the team …

May 04, 2015

Second Opinions in the Age of High Deductible Health Plans

The prevalence of so-called “high-deductible health plans” has grown significantly these past few years. With nearly two-thirds of employers offering a high deductible plan, almost a quarter offering nothing else, and continued growth trends, it’s not unreasonable to think that half of all workers could be covered by one in the near future.

So how high is high deductible? For individuals, it could be lower than $2,000, or it may be up around $5,000, depending on a variety of factors. To help meet the deductible (and cover other costs), consumers can put money aside in a health savings account (HSA) on a pre-tax basis. The theory behind offering these plans is that when facing higher out-of-pocket costs, covered individuals will shop around more for less expensive options, and maybe more importantly, with more skin in the game, they’ll ask themselves “Do I really need this?”

waiting roomThe early indication is that high deductible plans are saving employers money, and that’s encouraging. What’s too soon to tell – and what many responsible for health and benefits decisions are worried about – is whether the up-front costs of high deductible plans will give employees sticker shock and cause them to avoid visiting the doctor in the first place. And what if they do? Will this be end up being a “deferred maintenance” program for health care?

There is both anecdotal and statistical evidence that many folks, at the prospect of getting a doctor’s bill for several thousand dollars, are hoping the issue resolves itself or are deciding to ignore the pain until it becomes unbearable. As benefits professionals well know, not all workers are fluent in their health coverage – many report not knowing that several preventative offerings are either cheap or free to them. Taken together, that’s a recipe for turning emerging or manageable concerns into chronic, even serious, conditions.

And if the first doctor’s visit is put off, one shift I definitely expect to see is for individuals covered by a high deductible health plan to avoid getting a second opinion. Just imagine: a worker visits the doctor and gets a diagnosis – ‘it’s probably nothing’ – and a recommendation to follow up with another specialist. Or a worker plans on getting a second opinion, but can’t get an appointment until the new plan year, so now there are two steep deductibles to meet. It’s easy to see empty seats in the waiting room, which is a shame, because we hear all the time how much second opinions matter to ensuring the best outcomes, especially in complex or serious cases.

About 26% of Best Doctors members contact us for expert medical advice because their symptoms are not improving. Another 33% reach out because they are questioning the need for surgery. These are people who shouldn’t be asked to balance their health against what could turn into $3,000 or $4,000 of out-of-pocket costs. Everyone – regardless of their flavor of health plan – should have access to the right diagnosis and treatment. Best Doctors has been saying it (and delivering it) for decades; if trends continue, it’s going to be more important than ever before.

The prevalence of so-called “high-deductible health plans” has grown significantly these past few years. With nearly two-thirds of employers offering a high deductible plan, almost a quarter offering nothing else, and continued growth trends, it’s not unreasonable to think that half of all workers could be covered by one in the near future.

So how high is high deductible? For individuals, it could be lower than $2,000, or it may be up around $5,000, depending on a variety of factors. To help meet the deductible (and cover other costs), consumers can put money aside in a health savings account (HSA) on a pre-tax basis. The theory behind offering these plans is that when facing higher out-of-pocket costs, covered individuals will shop around more for less expensive options, and maybe more importantly, with more skin in the game, they’ll ask themselves “Do I really need this?”

waiting roomThe early indication is that high deductible plans are saving employers money, and that’s encouraging. What’s too soon to tell – and what many responsible for health and benefits decisions are worried about – is whether the up-front costs of high deductible plans will give employees sticker shock and cause them to avoid visiting the doctor in the first place. And what if they do? Will this be end up being a “deferred maintenance” program for health care?

There is both anecdotal and statistical evidence that many folks, at the prospect of getting a doctor’s bill for several thousand dollars, are hoping the issue resolves itself or are deciding to ignore the pain until it becomes unbearable. As benefits professionals well know, not all workers are fluent in their health coverage – many report not knowing that several preventative offerings are either cheap or free to them. Taken together, that’s a recipe for turning emerging or manageable concerns into chronic, even serious, conditions.

And if the first doctor’s visit is put off, one shift I definitely expect to see is for individuals covered by a high deductible health plan to avoid getting a second opinion. Just imagine: a worker visits the doctor and gets a diagnosis – ‘it’s probably nothing’ – and a recommendation to follow up with another specialist. Or a worker plans on getting a second opinion, but can’t get an appointment until the new plan year, so now there are two steep deductibles to meet. It’s easy to see empty seats in the waiting room, which is a shame, because we hear all the time how much second opinions matter to ensuring the best outcomes, especially in complex or serious cases.

About 26% of Best Doctors members contact us for expert medical advice because their symptoms are not improving. Another 33% reach out because they are questioning the need for surgery. These are people who shouldn’t be asked to balance their health against what could turn into $3,000 or $4,000 of out-of-pocket costs. Everyone – regardless of their flavor of health plan – should have access to the right diagnosis and treatment. Best Doctors has been saying it (and delivering it) for decades; if trends continue, it’s going to be more important than ever before.

May 01, 2015

A Healthy Approach to Workplace Absenteeism

Workplace absenteeism has important consequences for a company and its employees.

Sick days cost Canada an estimated $16.6 billion each year, with an average of 9.3 sick days taken per year per full-time employee [1], where surprisingly, 54% of Canadians are faking how sick they really are.[2] Unfortunately, employee absenteeism has important consequences that extend far beyond the financial impact, and may be taking a toll on the health of your employees. At company level, chronic or accumulated absenteeism can lead to decreased productivity and performance, as well as increased stress and overwork for coworkers or managers coping with the resulting backlog of work. This in turn can contribute to low company morale and strained employee relations.

Yet when it comes to addressing absenteeism, responsibility lies as much with the employer as it does with the employee.

Turning to social media and technology

When examining the impact of absenteeism on organizations and employees, it is not surprising employers are doing some investigating on frequently absent employees. In an age of 24/7 online connection, there is no better place to start than social media. Employers are also increasingly turning to other innovative measures to address unjustified absences, including so-called Big Data strategies, which analyze absence trends across connected to holidays, weather and sporting events. Specialized absence-management systems which require employees to log their days off with a call center so that they can be tracked and stored are also gaining popularity. Finally, gaming strategies provide non-tangible rewards (like recognition and positive feedback) for employees who successfully “play the game” of attendance. However, such innovations require careful forethought and legal advice, depending on the country and the jurisdiction. In addition, the risk of an employer being seen to be “policing” employees might breed a sense of mistrust and resentment in staff.

Stress and Musculoskeletal (MSK) diseasesbackpain

Before tracking their employees, companies might need to better focus on why it is that they are staying home, legitimately or not. Seasonal ailments aside, stress, exhaustion and musculoskeletal conditions have all been found to be major reasons for absenteeism. According to survey statistics, 65% of those who admitted to faking sick time did so because they were feeling stressed, while 13% attributed it to being overworked.[2] It’s also estimated that 11 million Canadians over the age of 12 are affected by musculoskeletal diseases, which is predicted to rise to 15 million by 2031 due to the aging baby boomer population.[3]

MSK diseases can range from pulled muscles to chronic back pain. When not properly addressed, they can become important and debilitating health issues, which are estimated to cost the Canadian economy more than $22 billion each year, with injuries costing an additional $15 billion annually. “Although the direct costs of MSK diseases and injury are high (e.g., hospital care, physician visits, rehabilitation prescription drugs), three-quarters of the overall costs are indirect (e.g., absence from work and lost potential earnings, underperformance at work).”[4]

The importance of employee wellbeing

Monitoring absenteeism is one thing, yet more and more organizations are becoming aware of the need for policies, programs, and employee benefits that address employees’ health before it becomes an issue. Such initiatives might include counselling, expert medical advice and physiotherapy support. Additionally, “research suggests that the more positive the work environment and employee-employer relationship, the less likely employees are to miss work.”[1]

Best Doctors believes that employee wellbeing is a cornerstone of any successful organization. Our services form an important part of employee benefits packages around the world and make a real difference to employee health and quality of life.

[1] The Conference Board of Canada: Missing in Action
[2] HRInsider: Understanding HR Policies
[3] Canadian Institutes of Health Research: IMHA Facts & Figures
[4] Canadian Institutes of Health Research: IMHA Strategic Plan 2014 – 2018

Workplace absenteeism has important consequences for a company and its employees.

Sick days cost Canada an estimated $16.6 billion each year, with an average of 9.3 sick days taken per year per full-time employee [1], where surprisingly, 54% of Canadians are faking how sick they really are.[2] Unfortunately, employee absenteeism has important consequences that extend far beyond the financial impact, and may be taking a toll on the health of your employees. At company level, chronic or accumulated absenteeism can lead to decreased productivity and performance, as well as increased stress and overwork for coworkers or managers coping with the resulting backlog of work. This in turn can contribute to low company morale and strained employee relations.

Yet when it comes to addressing absenteeism, responsibility lies as much with the employer as it does with the employee.

Turning to social media and technology

When examining the impact of absenteeism on organizations and employees, it is not surprising employers are doing some investigating on frequently absent employees. In an age of 24/7 online connection, there is no better place to start than social media. Employers are also increasingly turning to other innovative measures to address unjustified absences, including so-called Big Data strategies, which analyze absence trends across connected to holidays, weather and sporting events. Specialized absence-management systems which require employees to log their days off with a call center so that they can be tracked and stored are also gaining popularity. Finally, gaming strategies provide non-tangible rewards (like recognition and positive feedback) for employees who successfully “play the game” of attendance. However, such innovations require careful forethought and legal advice, depending on the country and the jurisdiction. In addition, the risk of an employer being seen to be “policing” employees might breed a sense of mistrust and resentment in staff.

Stress and Musculoskeletal (MSK) diseasesbackpain

Before tracking their employees, companies might need to better focus on why it is that they are staying home, legitimately or not. Seasonal ailments aside, stress, exhaustion and musculoskeletal conditions have all been found to be major reasons for absenteeism. According to survey statistics, 65% of those who admitted to faking sick time did so because they were feeling stressed, while 13% attributed it to being overworked.[2] It’s also estimated that 11 million Canadians over the age of 12 are affected by musculoskeletal diseases, which is predicted to rise to 15 million by 2031 due to the aging baby boomer population.[3]

MSK diseases can range from pulled muscles to chronic back pain. When not properly addressed, they can become important and debilitating health issues, which are estimated to cost the Canadian economy more than $22 billion each year, with injuries costing an additional $15 billion annually. “Although the direct costs of MSK diseases and injury are high (e.g., hospital care, physician visits, rehabilitation prescription drugs), three-quarters of the overall costs are indirect (e.g., absence from work and lost potential earnings, underperformance at work).”[4]

The importance of employee wellbeing

Monitoring absenteeism is one thing, yet more and more organizations are becoming aware of the need for policies, programs, and employee benefits that address employees’ health before it becomes an issue. Such initiatives might include counselling, expert medical advice and physiotherapy support. Additionally, “research suggests that the more positive the work environment and employee-employer relationship, the less likely employees are to miss work.”[1]

Best Doctors believes that employee wellbeing is a cornerstone of any successful organization. Our services form an important part of employee benefits packages around the world and make a real difference to employee health and quality of life.

[1] The Conference Board of Canada: Missing in Action
[2] HRInsider: Understanding HR Policies
[3] Canadian Institutes of Health Research: IMHA Facts & Figures
[4] Canadian Institutes of Health Research: IMHA Strategic Plan 2014 – 2018

April 21, 2015

Meet the Medical Advisory Board II

Next up in our Meet the Medical Advisory Board series is Dr. Doris K. Cope, who is dual-certified in anesthesiology and pain medicine. Management of pain and pain medication poses a significant challenge for so many, especially as the aging population continues to face chronic problems over longer periods of time.

In the video below she briefly shares some of her thoughts on the role of Best Doctors, the biggest health care challenges, and physician collaboration…

Whenever I get to speak to or interview physicians we work with, I like to ask for their perspectives on second opinions. One of the concerns we hear most often from members seeking second opinions is they don’t want to be seen as offending or challenging their treating physician with another doctor’s opinion. But Dr. Cope points out what so many other doctors have acknowledged – that as long as it’s a legitimate opinion, doctors tend to welcome the opinion as a collaborative effort … and the patient/member is ultimately the beneficiary of that collaboration.

Next up in our Meet the Medical Advisory Board series is Dr. Doris K. Cope, who is dual-certified in anesthesiology and pain medicine. Management of pain and pain medication poses a significant challenge for so many, especially as the aging population continues to face chronic problems over longer periods of time.

In the video below she briefly shares some of her thoughts on the role of Best Doctors, the biggest health care challenges, and physician collaboration…

Whenever I get to speak to or interview physicians we work with, I like to ask for their perspectives on second opinions. One of the concerns we hear most often from members seeking second opinions is they don’t want to be seen as offending or challenging their treating physician with another doctor’s opinion. But Dr. Cope points out what so many other doctors have acknowledged – that as long as it’s a legitimate opinion, doctors tend to welcome the opinion as a collaborative effort … and the patient/member is ultimately the beneficiary of that collaboration.

April 15, 2015

Telemedicine: Its Challenges and Differences

Last week the Texas Medical Board issued new restrictions on telemedicine, the practice of physicians diagnosing and prescribing medication via phone or video chat. Given the pitched battles over the years between the industry and regulators in the state, this was a long time coming.

telemedicineThe regulations – which are set to take effect in June – don’t outright ban telemedicine practices, but with rules requiring first-time patients to be in a health care setting and in the presence of another physician, it pretty much defeats the purpose. Proponents have stressed the doctor-patient relationship, along with concerns about patient safety and accountability. Opponents of the new rules claim they take away options from consumers. The shift will make Texas among the most restrictive states for telemedicine, though regulations on the practice vary considerably by state and that evolution will continue in the years ahead.

People sometimes ask if Best Doctors is a ‘telemedicine’ company, to which I say – No, we identify the best medical specialists in the world and provide expert medical advisory services for virtually any issue. Best Doctors connects members with medical resources, but that’s where the similarities end. There are some key ways in which we differ from telemedicine services –

Telemedicine is for short-term, lite-touch issues

This is not meant as a slight – telemedicine companies typically maintain lists of qualifying conditions, which don’t include matters like cancer, chronic issues, or critical injuries. And prescriptions, if they’re given at all, are for short courses of common medications. Ultimately, telemedicine is limited in its ability to serve the full market. Best Doctors confronts the full spectrum of conditions – from addressing pointed member questions to conducting in-depth case reviews, addressing the routine to the chronic.

Telemedicine has a relationships issue

Companies offering telemedicine claim they’re trying to complement patients’ relationships with their doctors. That may be true, but regulators in Texas weren’t buying it. With Best Doctors, members begin with a comprehensive intake followed by collection of all necessary records, so we really get to know the whole person. Then, at the end of an expert review, Best Doctors creates a report that’s written in plain English for the member, but that is appropriate for sharing with the treating physician. Best Doctors has also made significant investments in our physician portal – the online, real-time collaboration tool our experts use to consult on cases with their peers.

Telemedicine focuses on speed, then quality

Telemedicine companies generally have physicians who are board-certified and licensed in the patient’s home state. But they draw from a small pool of physicians, and claim they’ll connect patients to a doctor immediately or get a quick call back, any time of day. So what are the odds that the person on the other end of the line will be a match for each patient’s particular condition? With Best Doctors, quality is first, and a pool of thousands of experts across the world ensures that the person reviewing a case is the best possible match. Our Gallup-certified polling process asks doctors to rate their peers on clinical quality, in addition to independently verifying their credentials. And we have mechanisms to fast-track the most urgent issues, ensuring that members with acute cases receive the support they need, though the right answers are always better than the right-now answers.

Last week the Texas Medical Board issued new restrictions on telemedicine, the practice of physicians diagnosing and prescribing medication via phone or video chat. Given the pitched battles over the years between the industry and regulators in the state, this was a long time coming.

telemedicineThe regulations – which are set to take effect in June – don’t outright ban telemedicine practices, but with rules requiring first-time patients to be in a health care setting and in the presence of another physician, it pretty much defeats the purpose. Proponents have stressed the doctor-patient relationship, along with concerns about patient safety and accountability. Opponents of the new rules claim they take away options from consumers. The shift will make Texas among the most restrictive states for telemedicine, though regulations on the practice vary considerably by state and that evolution will continue in the years ahead.

People sometimes ask if Best Doctors is a ‘telemedicine’ company, to which I say – No, we identify the best medical specialists in the world and provide expert medical advisory services for virtually any issue. Best Doctors connects members with medical resources, but that’s where the similarities end. There are some key ways in which we differ from telemedicine services –

Telemedicine is for short-term, lite-touch issues

This is not meant as a slight – telemedicine companies typically maintain lists of qualifying conditions, which don’t include matters like cancer, chronic issues, or critical injuries. And prescriptions, if they’re given at all, are for short courses of common medications. Ultimately, telemedicine is limited in its ability to serve the full market. Best Doctors confronts the full spectrum of conditions – from addressing pointed member questions to conducting in-depth case reviews, addressing the routine to the chronic.

Telemedicine has a relationships issue

Companies offering telemedicine claim they’re trying to complement patients’ relationships with their doctors. That may be true, but regulators in Texas weren’t buying it. With Best Doctors, members begin with a comprehensive intake followed by collection of all necessary records, so we really get to know the whole person. Then, at the end of an expert review, Best Doctors creates a report that’s written in plain English for the member, but that is appropriate for sharing with the treating physician. Best Doctors has also made significant investments in our physician portal – the online, real-time collaboration tool our experts use to consult on cases with their peers.

Telemedicine focuses on speed, then quality

Telemedicine companies generally have physicians who are board-certified and licensed in the patient’s home state. But they draw from a small pool of physicians, and claim they’ll connect patients to a doctor immediately or get a quick call back, any time of day. So what are the odds that the person on the other end of the line will be a match for each patient’s particular condition? With Best Doctors, quality is first, and a pool of thousands of experts across the world ensures that the person reviewing a case is the best possible match. Our Gallup-certified polling process asks doctors to rate their peers on clinical quality, in addition to independently verifying their credentials. And we have mechanisms to fast-track the most urgent issues, ensuring that members with acute cases receive the support they need, though the right answers are always better than the right-now answers.

April 13, 2015

The Costs of Unnecessary Surgery

Imagine undergoing surgery, being in pain and out of commission for several days or weeks, not to mention missing work and time with your family – and then finding out your operation was completely unnecessary.

surgeonsThis may sound implausible, but with reports suggesting that millions of unnecessary surgeries are performed every year, this is a sad reality for many unfortunate patients. Unnecessary surgeries are very costly too: in the United States, they’re estimated to cost at least $150 billion a year[1], while in Canada a report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information found that up to $180 million a year would be saved if the number of potentially unnecessary surgeries performed was reduced and doctors offered the most “appropriate and most cost effective” procedures to their patients[2].

A wide range of surgeries have been found to be unnecessarily performed. This includes several cardiac procedures (angioplasty, stents and pacemakers), spinal surgeries, knee replacements, hysterectomies and caesarian sections, among other procedures that are performed more often than needed[3].

Before delving into the issue further, it’s helpful to explain what is meant by an “unnecessary surgery”. This is defined as an operation that is useless in that it does not benefit the patient – either by not doing what it is supposed to do or because the benefits of it are far outweighed by the costs with regards to risks, morbidity, pain and disability[4].

Given that unnecessary surgeries result in a tremendous waste of human and financial resources, not to mention the needless pain and suffering inflicted on patients, why does this happen with such alarming frequency?

There are a couple of reasons:

  • Many unnecessary surgeries are often the result of a physician’s uncertainty about the effectiveness of an operation. In some cases, physicians are making decisions based on inadequate evidence – the validity of laboratory results, effectiveness of treatment and accuracy of diagnosis are often not completely certain[5]. Other factors aggravate this situation – many patients’ cases are not clear cut or some doctors may not be up to speed on the most recent literature.
  • The desire to act on behalf of a patient also plays a role, as many patients opt for action over inaction. Physicians may be more inclined to operate if this is what the patient prefers and if it is reasonable.

Reducing the number of unnecessary surgeries performed would help lessen the burden on the health care system, save money and avoid placing patients at risk of pain, infection, longer hospital stays, injury or worse when there’s little or no benefit. So what can be done to achieve this?

One solution is having patients obtain a second opinion after an operation is recommended, in order to confirm the diagnosis and the need for surgery. This is where a service like Best Doctors comes in.

Those who contact Best Doctors gain access to the best medical minds in the world – the Best Doctors database includes over 53,000 physicians in more than 450 specialties and subspecialties worldwide, representing a vast range of leading hospitals and medical research centres around the globe.

The fact that 60 percent of Best Doctors’ members end up with a change in treatment plan* underscores the importance of getting a second opinion, particularly when it comes to surgery. In fact, 20 percent of people who contact Best Doctors do so because they question the need for surgery*.

Given the high rate of unnecessary surgeries performed every year and the potentially disastrous consequences this can have, it’s clear that getting an expert second opinion is more than just advisable – it can have a life-altering impact.

*Internal data from Best Doctors Canada. Statistics do not reflect the outcomes in other countries.

[1] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2010-12-30/highest-paid-u-s-doctors-get-rich-with-fusion-surgery-debunked-by-studies
[2] http://www.macleans.ca/general/too-many-unnecessary-surgeries-in-canada/
[3] USA Today study, as cited in http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/06/18/unnecessary-surgery-usa-today-investigation/2435009/
[4] The National Center for Biotechnology Information. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1065571/pdf/hsresearch00085-0066.pdf
[5] The National Center for Biotechnology Information. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1065571/pdf/hsresearch00085-0066.pdf
[6] The National Center for Biotechnology Information. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1065571/pdf/hsresearch00085-0066.pdf

 

 

Imagine undergoing surgery, being in pain and out of commission for several days or weeks, not to mention missing work and time with your family – and then finding out your operation was completely unnecessary.

surgeonsThis may sound implausible, but with reports suggesting that millions of unnecessary surgeries are performed every year, this is a sad reality for many unfortunate patients. Unnecessary surgeries are very costly too: in the United States, they’re estimated to cost at least $150 billion a year[1], while in Canada a report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information found that up to $180 million a year would be saved if the number of potentially unnecessary surgeries performed was reduced and doctors offered the most “appropriate and most cost effective” procedures to their patients[2].

A wide range of surgeries have been found to be unnecessarily performed. This includes several cardiac procedures (angioplasty, stents and pacemakers), spinal surgeries, knee replacements, hysterectomies and caesarian sections, among other procedures that are performed more often than needed[3].

Before delving into the issue further, it’s helpful to explain what is meant by an “unnecessary surgery”. This is defined as an operation that is useless in that it does not benefit the patient – either by not doing what it is supposed to do or because the benefits of it are far outweighed by the costs with regards to risks, morbidity, pain and disability[4].

Given that unnecessary surgeries result in a tremendous waste of human and financial resources, not to mention the needless pain and suffering inflicted on patients, why does this happen with such alarming frequency?

There are a couple of reasons:

  • Many unnecessary surgeries are often the result of a physician’s uncertainty about the effectiveness of an operation. In some cases, physicians are making decisions based on inadequate evidence – the validity of laboratory results, effectiveness of treatment and accuracy of diagnosis are often not completely certain[5]. Other factors aggravate this situation – many patients’ cases are not clear cut or some doctors may not be up to speed on the most recent literature.
  • The desire to act on behalf of a patient also plays a role, as many patients opt for action over inaction. Physicians may be more inclined to operate if this is what the patient prefers and if it is reasonable.

Reducing the number of unnecessary surgeries performed would help lessen the burden on the health care system, save money and avoid placing patients at risk of pain, infection, longer hospital stays, injury or worse when there’s little or no benefit. So what can be done to achieve this?

One solution is having patients obtain a second opinion after an operation is recommended, in order to confirm the diagnosis and the need for surgery. This is where a service like Best Doctors comes in.

Those who contact Best Doctors gain access to the best medical minds in the world – the Best Doctors database includes over 53,000 physicians in more than 450 specialties and subspecialties worldwide, representing a vast range of leading hospitals and medical research centres around the globe.

The fact that 60 percent of Best Doctors’ members end up with a change in treatment plan* underscores the importance of getting a second opinion, particularly when it comes to surgery. In fact, 20 percent of people who contact Best Doctors do so because they question the need for surgery*.

Given the high rate of unnecessary surgeries performed every year and the potentially disastrous consequences this can have, it’s clear that getting an expert second opinion is more than just advisable – it can have a life-altering impact.

*Internal data from Best Doctors Canada. Statistics do not reflect the outcomes in other countries.

[1] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2010-12-30/highest-paid-u-s-doctors-get-rich-with-fusion-surgery-debunked-by-studies
[2] http://www.macleans.ca/general/too-many-unnecessary-surgeries-in-canada/
[3] USA Today study, as cited in http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/06/18/unnecessary-surgery-usa-today-investigation/2435009/
[4] The National Center for Biotechnology Information. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1065571/pdf/hsresearch00085-0066.pdf
[5] The National Center for Biotechnology Information. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1065571/pdf/hsresearch00085-0066.pdf
[6] The National Center for Biotechnology Information. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1065571/pdf/hsresearch00085-0066.pdf

 

 

April 08, 2015

Meet the Team: Member Advocates

Last week we invited you to meet our Medical Advisory Board members with the first in a series of blog posts, which we’ll continue this spring. Today I’d like to invite you to view the first in a new series that we’re calling Meet the Team.

We’re often asked, “Can you tell me about the member experience?” or “What can you tell me about the interactions your staff has with members?” Well, why not show you instead? Below are two videos featuring our member advocates, which is just one role among the many clinical and operations team members at Best Doctors who ensure an excellent experience for members every day.

These are real people, not hired actors. In the video we’ve included some of the questions that were asked, but my colleagues were never scripted. By introducing them to you, I hope to give you a clearer picture of the trained, caring professionals who advocate for every single one of our members. But see for yourself, and Meet the Team:

(click to view)

casey

 

 

jackie

Last week we invited you to meet our Medical Advisory Board members with the first in a series of blog posts, which we’ll continue this spring. Today I’d like to invite you to view the first in a new series that we’re calling Meet the Team.

We’re often asked, “Can you tell me about the member experience?” or “What can you tell me about the interactions your staff has with members?” Well, why not show you instead? Below are two videos featuring our member advocates, which is just one role among the many clinical and operations team members at Best Doctors who ensure an excellent experience for members every day.

These are real people, not hired actors. In the video we’ve included some of the questions that were asked, but my colleagues were never scripted. By introducing them to you, I hope to give you a clearer picture of the trained, caring professionals who advocate for every single one of our members. But see for yourself, and Meet the Team:

(click to view)

casey

 

 

jackie

April 01, 2015

Meet the Medical Advisory Board

The Best Doctors Medical Advisory Board is a key pillar in the mission of ensuring extraordinary medical quality and engaging the physician community. With our current members, we’ve assembled a panel of truly distinguished physicians to provide direction and clinical leadership to the organization. Some of them even agreed to share their perspectives on camera, so we’re sharing them in a series called Meet the Medical Advisory Board.

With our first video, we introduce you to Dr. Martin A. Samuels, a renowned neurologist and Harvard Medical School professor. He’s also a Best Doctors Expert Specialist, and he shares his perspectives on physician collaboration and the all-important doctor-patient relationship.

(click to view)
samuels_still

The Best Doctors Medical Advisory Board is a key pillar in the mission of ensuring extraordinary medical quality and engaging the physician community. With our current members, we’ve assembled a panel of truly distinguished physicians to provide direction and clinical leadership to the organization. Some of them even agreed to share their perspectives on camera, so we’re sharing them in a series called Meet the Medical Advisory Board.

With our first video, we introduce you to Dr. Martin A. Samuels, a renowned neurologist and Harvard Medical School professor. He’s also a Best Doctors Expert Specialist, and he shares his perspectives on physician collaboration and the all-important doctor-patient relationship.

(click to view)
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March 25, 2015

One Client’s Experience with Best Doctors

Once in a while it’s nice to take a break from describing the Best Doctors experience, and instead share the first-person experience of one of our employer clients. So I’m excited to share a brand new video featuring Ann Burke, Executive Director of Benefits at Boehringer Ingelheim. They are a global pharmaceutical company, but like all clients, they have a unique set of needs that requires both innovative and tailored solutions.

With the video, we focused on just a few basic questions, like Why did you choose to partner with Best Doctors?, How would you describe the service to your colleagues?, and What would you say to other employers evaluating the Best Doctors service?

We have many treasured clients and there are many firms out there trying to replicate aspects of the Best Doctors service, so it’s tremendously gratifying when one of our clients uses terms like “the perfect fit” and “a no-brainer” to describe our shared partnership. But Ann tells it better than I do, so without further ado…

Once in a while it’s nice to take a break from describing the Best Doctors experience, and instead share the first-person experience of one of our employer clients. So I’m excited to share a brand new video featuring Ann Burke, Executive Director of Benefits at Boehringer Ingelheim. They are a global pharmaceutical company, but like all clients, they have a unique set of needs that requires both innovative and tailored solutions.

With the video, we focused on just a few basic questions, like Why did you choose to partner with Best Doctors?, How would you describe the service to your colleagues?, and What would you say to other employers evaluating the Best Doctors service?

We have many treasured clients and there are many firms out there trying to replicate aspects of the Best Doctors service, so it’s tremendously gratifying when one of our clients uses terms like “the perfect fit” and “a no-brainer” to describe our shared partnership. But Ann tells it better than I do, so without further ado…

March 19, 2015

INFOGRAPHIC: Error on the Frontlines of Health Care

When experiencing medical uncertainty, most people would visit their primary care doctor. But primary care providers can’t have all the answers, and for so many people, seeing a specialist is costly and complicated (though it shouldn’t be!). So it should be no surprise that cases often don’t go any further and errors are occurring on the frontlines of health care.

We put together this infographic to show some of the key findings about medical error and primary care –

diagnostic error

When experiencing medical uncertainty, most people would visit their primary care doctor. But primary care providers can’t have all the answers, and for so many people, seeing a specialist is costly and complicated (though it shouldn’t be!). So it should be no surprise that cases often don’t go any further and errors are occurring on the frontlines of health care.

We put together this infographic to show some of the key findings about medical error and primary care –

diagnostic error