September 20, 2016

Sometimes when you catch a bug, you need to look for the bite

400-06068735

Focus on Lyme disease and flu-like symptoms

In continuation of our Health Matters series, we’d like to direct our focus on Lyme disease and the ways you can educate yourself to reduce the chances of misdiagnosis of Lyme disease the future.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection primarily transmitted by deer ticks that affects more than 300,000 North Americans per year. However, because diagnosing Lyme disease can be difficult, many people who actually have Lyme disease may be misdiagnosed with other conditions, and many experts believe the actual number of cases may be much higher.

Lyme disease affects people of all ages. The Centers for Disease Control notes that it is most common in children, older adults, and others such as first responders and forest rangers who spend time in outdoor activities and have higher exposure to ticks.

The symptoms of early Lyme disease resemble those of the flu, including:

  • fever
  • chills and sweats
  • muscle aches and fatigue
  • nausea
  • joint pain

In addition, one of the most common indicators of early Lyme disease is a bulls-eye rash at the site of the tick bite. However, this telltale symptom is often faint or hidden on a remote part of the body, while some people don’t get the rash at all.

As with these early indicators, other Lyme disease symptoms (such as cognitive impairment, poor sleep, mood problems, and neurological issues) also occur in other diseases, making the symptoms of Lyme disease significantly overlap those of a host of other conditions, including:

  • fibromyalgia
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease (also called ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Because misdiagnosis of Lyme disease is particularly common, the need for a comprehensive approach to your care becomes even greater. Today’s complex health care landscape requires that we all become advocates for our own health and welfare. If you have flu-like symptoms and other circumstances that could indicate the prospect of Lyme disease, you should be skeptical about any diagnosis and open to the value of a second opinion.

 

400-06068735

Focus on Lyme disease and flu-like symptoms

In continuation of our Health Matters series, we’d like to direct our focus on Lyme disease and the ways you can educate yourself to reduce the chances of misdiagnosis of Lyme disease the future.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection primarily transmitted by deer ticks that affects more than 300,000 North Americans per year. However, because diagnosing Lyme disease can be difficult, many people who actually have Lyme disease may be misdiagnosed with other conditions, and many experts believe the actual number of cases may be much higher.

Lyme disease affects people of all ages. The Centers for Disease Control notes that it is most common in children, older adults, and others such as first responders and forest rangers who spend time in outdoor activities and have higher exposure to ticks.

The symptoms of early Lyme disease resemble those of the flu, including:

  • fever
  • chills and sweats
  • muscle aches and fatigue
  • nausea
  • joint pain

In addition, one of the most common indicators of early Lyme disease is a bulls-eye rash at the site of the tick bite. However, this telltale symptom is often faint or hidden on a remote part of the body, while some people don’t get the rash at all.

As with these early indicators, other Lyme disease symptoms (such as cognitive impairment, poor sleep, mood problems, and neurological issues) also occur in other diseases, making the symptoms of Lyme disease significantly overlap those of a host of other conditions, including:

  • fibromyalgia
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease (also called ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Because misdiagnosis of Lyme disease is particularly common, the need for a comprehensive approach to your care becomes even greater. Today’s complex health care landscape requires that we all become advocates for our own health and welfare. If you have flu-like symptoms and other circumstances that could indicate the prospect of Lyme disease, you should be skeptical about any diagnosis and open to the value of a second opinion.

 

August 22, 2016

HEALTH MATTERS SERIES: Lupus

400-08109410

Best Doctors is a company that provides individuals with access to the best medical minds around the globe. To contribute to this mission, we’ve started a Health Matters series which will dive into relevant health topics on a monthly basis. By curating information from trusted sources, we hope to provide individuals with the confidence they need to tackle any health issue they face.

Our focus this month is lupus. Lupus is a chronic and incurable autoimmune disease that occurs when our tissues attack our own immune systems. Lupus can affect many parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain. The condition is extremely complicated and unpredictable, making it one of the most easily misdiagnosed medical conditions.

The symptoms of lupus resemble those of other more common conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, hepatitis C, influenza, and many others. Some of the most common lupus symptoms are:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
  • Fever and muscle pain
  • Hair loss and skin rashes

Another hallmark of lupus is that the symptoms tend to be sporadic, meaning that they sometimes can “flare up” and other times are in remission, further confusing the prospect for a proper and accurate diagnosis. There is no single test to diagnose lupus and it sometimes takes months or even years for a diagnosis of lupus.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, from the time they first notice their lupus symptoms, it takes nearly six years for individuals with lupus to be diagnosed. 63 percent of people with lupus report being incorrectly diagnosed. Of those in the group reporting misdiagnosis, more than half reported seeing four or more different providers before their accurate diagnosis!

In addition to its complex and confusing symptoms, lupus can have big effects on your wallet. An October 2008 study found that the average annual direct health care cost of individuals with lupus was $12,643. The same study states the mean annual productivity costs (lost hours of productive work) for participants of employment age was $8,659.

The similarities of lupus symptoms to those of other diseases and the lack of testing protocols makes this inflammatory disease one of the most obvious candidates for the Best Doctors service. It’s important to take note of the symptoms you are experiencing. Having these in mind as you visit your physician will help you find the correct diagnosis. It goes without saying that second opinions are never a bad idea for health issues that are known to be so difficult to diagnose.

400-08109410

Best Doctors is a company that provides individuals with access to the best medical minds around the globe. To contribute to this mission, we’ve started a Health Matters series which will dive into relevant health topics on a monthly basis. By curating information from trusted sources, we hope to provide individuals with the confidence they need to tackle any health issue they face.

Our focus this month is lupus. Lupus is a chronic and incurable autoimmune disease that occurs when our tissues attack our own immune systems. Lupus can affect many parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain. The condition is extremely complicated and unpredictable, making it one of the most easily misdiagnosed medical conditions.

The symptoms of lupus resemble those of other more common conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, hepatitis C, influenza, and many others. Some of the most common lupus symptoms are:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
  • Fever and muscle pain
  • Hair loss and skin rashes

Another hallmark of lupus is that the symptoms tend to be sporadic, meaning that they sometimes can “flare up” and other times are in remission, further confusing the prospect for a proper and accurate diagnosis. There is no single test to diagnose lupus and it sometimes takes months or even years for a diagnosis of lupus.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, from the time they first notice their lupus symptoms, it takes nearly six years for individuals with lupus to be diagnosed. 63 percent of people with lupus report being incorrectly diagnosed. Of those in the group reporting misdiagnosis, more than half reported seeing four or more different providers before their accurate diagnosis!

In addition to its complex and confusing symptoms, lupus can have big effects on your wallet. An October 2008 study found that the average annual direct health care cost of individuals with lupus was $12,643. The same study states the mean annual productivity costs (lost hours of productive work) for participants of employment age was $8,659.

The similarities of lupus symptoms to those of other diseases and the lack of testing protocols makes this inflammatory disease one of the most obvious candidates for the Best Doctors service. It’s important to take note of the symptoms you are experiencing. Having these in mind as you visit your physician will help you find the correct diagnosis. It goes without saying that second opinions are never a bad idea for health issues that are known to be so difficult to diagnose.

August 01, 2016

HEALTH MATTERS SERIES: When the symptom is a headache, finding the right treatment shouldn’t be

Headache

According to the World Health Organization, it has been estimated that almost half of the adult population has had a headache at least once within the last year. Chronic headaches can be among the most mysterious of health conditions, indicating other conditions or sometimes simply existing as a standalone problem.

The high probability of misdiagnosis in headaches raises some serious issues. Headache disorders collectively, were the third highest cause worldwide of years lost due to disability. A difficulty in diagnosis leads to more suffering, money spent and time wasted. And in the case of headache disorders, this applies to an amazingly large population.

Let us familiarize ourselves with two different types of headache disorders with common symptoms: migraines and cluster headaches.

Cluster headaches occur in cyclical patterns or clusters, and they are one of the most painful types of headache. A cluster headache commonly awakens you in the middle of the night with intense pain in or around one eye on one side of your head. Bouts of frequent attacks, known as cluster periods, can last for several months, usually followed by remission periods when the headaches subside for many months, and sometimes even years.

A cluster headache strikes quickly, usually without warning, although it is sometimes preceded by migraine-like nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Common signs and symptoms during a headache include:

  • Excruciating pain, generally situated in or around one eye
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive tearing
  • Redness and swelling in your eye on the affected side
  • Stuffy or runny nose on the affected side

Other migraine-like symptoms—including sensitivity to light and sound—can occur with a cluster headache, though usually on one side.

A migraine, on the other hand, is usually a severe headache felt as a throbbing pain at the front or side of the head. Some people also have other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and increased sensitivity to light or sound. The intensity and severity of migraines often cause misdiagnosis between the two types of headaches.

Cluster headaches are also sometimes confused with sinus headaches, further complicating the diagnosis.

The similarities between cluster headaches and migraines are subtle, but they are enough to make it difficult for your doctor to make a certain diagnosis. If you are experiencing severe, debilitating headaches, pay special attention to the symptoms you are experiencing and write them down so you can remember to tell your doctor. In addition to advocating for your own health, never be afraid to ask for a second opinion. It’s estimated that half of the affected population self-treats with over-the-counter medications, but a lot of the time this Band-Aid fix is not as effective long-term as an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Headache

According to the World Health Organization, it has been estimated that almost half of the adult population has had a headache at least once within the last year. Chronic headaches can be among the most mysterious of health conditions, indicating other conditions or sometimes simply existing as a standalone problem.

The high probability of misdiagnosis in headaches raises some serious issues. Headache disorders collectively, were the third highest cause worldwide of years lost due to disability. A difficulty in diagnosis leads to more suffering, money spent and time wasted. And in the case of headache disorders, this applies to an amazingly large population.

Let us familiarize ourselves with two different types of headache disorders with common symptoms: migraines and cluster headaches.

Cluster headaches occur in cyclical patterns or clusters, and they are one of the most painful types of headache. A cluster headache commonly awakens you in the middle of the night with intense pain in or around one eye on one side of your head. Bouts of frequent attacks, known as cluster periods, can last for several months, usually followed by remission periods when the headaches subside for many months, and sometimes even years.

A cluster headache strikes quickly, usually without warning, although it is sometimes preceded by migraine-like nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Common signs and symptoms during a headache include:

  • Excruciating pain, generally situated in or around one eye
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive tearing
  • Redness and swelling in your eye on the affected side
  • Stuffy or runny nose on the affected side

Other migraine-like symptoms—including sensitivity to light and sound—can occur with a cluster headache, though usually on one side.

A migraine, on the other hand, is usually a severe headache felt as a throbbing pain at the front or side of the head. Some people also have other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and increased sensitivity to light or sound. The intensity and severity of migraines often cause misdiagnosis between the two types of headaches.

Cluster headaches are also sometimes confused with sinus headaches, further complicating the diagnosis.

The similarities between cluster headaches and migraines are subtle, but they are enough to make it difficult for your doctor to make a certain diagnosis. If you are experiencing severe, debilitating headaches, pay special attention to the symptoms you are experiencing and write them down so you can remember to tell your doctor. In addition to advocating for your own health, never be afraid to ask for a second opinion. It’s estimated that half of the affected population self-treats with over-the-counter medications, but a lot of the time this Band-Aid fix is not as effective long-term as an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

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.

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.

September 03, 2014

How a Smartphone Selfie Could Save Your Life

A doctor gives you a diagnosis that you have a sneaking suspicion is off the mark. You feel unsettled, and then a light bulb goes off – why not use your smartphone to film your symptoms as they’re happening in real time?

Sure, this gives a whole new meaning to taking matters into your own hands, but it’s exactly this type of creative thinking that might have saved the life of one Canadian woman.

By now, you might have heard of Stacey Yepes, who had originally been misdiagnosed with stress after she experienced numbness in her face and had difficulty speaking. When her symptoms recurred a few days later, Yepes had the wherewithal to film herself with her smartphone. This video gone-viral, led doctors at a different hospital to conclude that Yepes had been in the throes of a mini-stroke, and they were able to treat her accordingly.

smartphone

While it’s a unique example, Yepes’ highly publicized case highlights the fact that we are often our own strongest health care advocates. It also underscores the important role that consumer technology can play in ensuring we get the right diagnosis and right treatment from health care professionals. In fact, in many ways, a smartphone selfie diagnosis seems like a natural extension of telemedicine.

These days, people are taking control of their health with digital tools, including health apps that allow us to do things like measure our heart rate, monitor our respiratory status (useful for asthma sufferers) and upload information from devices such as blood glucose monitors – this information can then be shared with our health care providers. There are also blood pressure monitors that can be connected to the Internet or video equipment, allowing for real-time interaction with health care professionals.

Home health monitoring is especially helpful for people with chronic diseases. Thanks to advances in consumer technology, we have easier access to medical care and advice than ever before.

But this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t also exercise good judgment in how we use the plethora of technology available to us when it comes to managing our health. Social media comes to mind here – some people post pictures of physical ailments on Facebook, crowdsourcing a diagnosis from friends or even strangers. It’s not hard to imagine how such a misuse of technology and social media can end up having disastrous consequences.

Instead, we should take a page from Yepes’ experience, which perfectly illustrates how technology can enhance our ability to manage our own health. Her story is a reminder that the onus lies with us to be proactive, and if we suspect a diagnosis or treatment isn’t right, it might not be. The good news is that being proactive is becoming much easier with an ever-growing arsenal of tools available at our disposal, some of them even easily accessed from our back pocket.

A doctor gives you a diagnosis that you have a sneaking suspicion is off the mark. You feel unsettled, and then a light bulb goes off – why not use your smartphone to film your symptoms as they’re happening in real time?

Sure, this gives a whole new meaning to taking matters into your own hands, but it’s exactly this type of creative thinking that might have saved the life of one Canadian woman.

By now, you might have heard of Stacey Yepes, who had originally been misdiagnosed with stress after she experienced numbness in her face and had difficulty speaking. When her symptoms recurred a few days later, Yepes had the wherewithal to film herself with her smartphone. This video gone-viral, led doctors at a different hospital to conclude that Yepes had been in the throes of a mini-stroke, and they were able to treat her accordingly.

smartphone

While it’s a unique example, Yepes’ highly publicized case highlights the fact that we are often our own strongest health care advocates. It also underscores the important role that consumer technology can play in ensuring we get the right diagnosis and right treatment from health care professionals. In fact, in many ways, a smartphone selfie diagnosis seems like a natural extension of telemedicine.

These days, people are taking control of their health with digital tools, including health apps that allow us to do things like measure our heart rate, monitor our respiratory status (useful for asthma sufferers) and upload information from devices such as blood glucose monitors – this information can then be shared with our health care providers. There are also blood pressure monitors that can be connected to the Internet or video equipment, allowing for real-time interaction with health care professionals.

Home health monitoring is especially helpful for people with chronic diseases. Thanks to advances in consumer technology, we have easier access to medical care and advice than ever before.

But this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t also exercise good judgment in how we use the plethora of technology available to us when it comes to managing our health. Social media comes to mind here – some people post pictures of physical ailments on Facebook, crowdsourcing a diagnosis from friends or even strangers. It’s not hard to imagine how such a misuse of technology and social media can end up having disastrous consequences.

Instead, we should take a page from Yepes’ experience, which perfectly illustrates how technology can enhance our ability to manage our own health. Her story is a reminder that the onus lies with us to be proactive, and if we suspect a diagnosis or treatment isn’t right, it might not be. The good news is that being proactive is becoming much easier with an ever-growing arsenal of tools available at our disposal, some of them even easily accessed from our back pocket.

July 16, 2014

INFOGRAPHIC: The Numbers on Expert Second Opinions

Best Doctors has just released a new infographic that brings into focus some of the numbers around expert medical second opinions. Some key points I’d like to highlight—

More than a third of cases see some type of change made to the diagnosis, and well above two-thirds of cases have some shift in treatment. The changes could be modest or they could be massive, but behind them all is the peace of mind in knowing that the diagnosis or treatment is the right one.

Also, we track the reasons why people seek a second opinion in the first place, and most interesting to me are the two least common reasons: patients having no diagnosis and being skeptical of their doctors. For most people, it’s not that they mistrust their specialists or haven’t been able to get a diagnosis – it’s just that they want to be absolutely sure.

Finally, pathology reviews by experts. Most second opinion services are not equipped to re-review pathology samples, but Best Doctors is, and it happens for 1 in 5 cases. Of the cases with a pathology review, 1 in 4 produces a different result. That’s 5% of all cases, but 25% of cases with pathology samples, and a different result could be as significant as a change in cancer diagnosis, so it’s hard to overstate the importance of getting it right.

What numbers and findings stand out to you?

second opinions

Best Doctors has just released a new infographic that brings into focus some of the numbers around expert medical second opinions. Some key points I’d like to highlight—

More than a third of cases see some type of change made to the diagnosis, and well above two-thirds of cases have some shift in treatment. The changes could be modest or they could be massive, but behind them all is the peace of mind in knowing that the diagnosis or treatment is the right one.

Also, we track the reasons why people seek a second opinion in the first place, and most interesting to me are the two least common reasons: patients having no diagnosis and being skeptical of their doctors. For most people, it’s not that they mistrust their specialists or haven’t been able to get a diagnosis – it’s just that they want to be absolutely sure.

Finally, pathology reviews by experts. Most second opinion services are not equipped to re-review pathology samples, but Best Doctors is, and it happens for 1 in 5 cases. Of the cases with a pathology review, 1 in 4 produces a different result. That’s 5% of all cases, but 25% of cases with pathology samples, and a different result could be as significant as a change in cancer diagnosis, so it’s hard to overstate the importance of getting it right.

What numbers and findings stand out to you?

second opinions

July 11, 2014

5 tips for better communication with your doctor

As a global services company, Best Doctors is focused on delivering medical certainty to people, regardless of where they are in the world. Our colleagues in Europe recently compiled the top 5 tips for better communication with your doctor, which have been slightly adapted and shared here, proving that best practices for doctor-patient interaction are universal anywhere across the globe…

Being a patient doesn’t mean being a passive recipient of medical knowledge, and the patient-doctor relationship is definitely a two-way street. Good communication with your doctor is fundamental to ensuring a correct diagnosis, the most appropriate treatment and the most lasting results. The next time you visit your doctor, keep these five tips in mind:

hand_on_shoulder1. Trust your doctor. If you approach your upcoming doctor’s visit with just one idea, let it be this one. A trusting relationship with your doctor allows you to work together as a team on your diagnosis and treatment in an open and honest way. This doesn’t mean you blindly accept everything your doctor says, but if you start with feelings of distrust, you are more likely to hide important details or not follow treatment advice, leading to a higher likelihood of misdiagnosis or poor clinical outcome.

2. Be honest. “Forgetting” or being too embarrassed to discuss your lifestyle habits, medication or previous conditions will only make it more difficult for your doctor to diagnose or treat you appropriately. Now is not the time to say that you are a non-smoker and exercise 5 days a week if this is not the case. No one is perfect, and the chances are that what sounds “bad” or embarrassing to you is something your doctor has seen time and again. Remember, your doctor is not there to judge you, but to help you.

3. Speak up. The same goes for those little questions that arise from our inner voice. Remember an incident from a few years ago that could be related? Wondering about the effect of your medication and a vitamin supplement you are taking? Tell your doctor. Don’t wait for the next visit, or for symptoms to get worse. It could be much more important than you think.

4. Stick to the point. Not having enough time to deal with your questions and concerns thoroughly is a serious challenge. A bit of small talk at the beginning of the consultation is fine to break the ice, but keep it to a minimum. Your doctor is not scoring you on personality and will not take it personally if you get right down to the purpose of your visit. One idea is to write down your main questions and concerns beforehand so you can refer to them as a guide during the appointment.

5. Be the patient … not the doctor. Being tuned into your symptoms and aware of any research related to your condition is positive and proactive. However, informing your doctor all about your internet search findings before he or she has had a chance to say anything can be counter-productive. Not only are you wasting valuable consultation time but you are also putting indirect pressure on your doctor to agree with you. No one likes that feeling, to say nothing of the potential risk of misdiagnosis that doing this entails.

As a global services company, Best Doctors is focused on delivering medical certainty to people, regardless of where they are in the world. Our colleagues in Europe recently compiled the top 5 tips for better communication with your doctor, which have been slightly adapted and shared here, proving that best practices for doctor-patient interaction are universal anywhere across the globe…

Being a patient doesn’t mean being a passive recipient of medical knowledge, and the patient-doctor relationship is definitely a two-way street. Good communication with your doctor is fundamental to ensuring a correct diagnosis, the most appropriate treatment and the most lasting results. The next time you visit your doctor, keep these five tips in mind:

hand_on_shoulder1. Trust your doctor. If you approach your upcoming doctor’s visit with just one idea, let it be this one. A trusting relationship with your doctor allows you to work together as a team on your diagnosis and treatment in an open and honest way. This doesn’t mean you blindly accept everything your doctor says, but if you start with feelings of distrust, you are more likely to hide important details or not follow treatment advice, leading to a higher likelihood of misdiagnosis or poor clinical outcome.

2. Be honest. “Forgetting” or being too embarrassed to discuss your lifestyle habits, medication or previous conditions will only make it more difficult for your doctor to diagnose or treat you appropriately. Now is not the time to say that you are a non-smoker and exercise 5 days a week if this is not the case. No one is perfect, and the chances are that what sounds “bad” or embarrassing to you is something your doctor has seen time and again. Remember, your doctor is not there to judge you, but to help you.

3. Speak up. The same goes for those little questions that arise from our inner voice. Remember an incident from a few years ago that could be related? Wondering about the effect of your medication and a vitamin supplement you are taking? Tell your doctor. Don’t wait for the next visit, or for symptoms to get worse. It could be much more important than you think.

4. Stick to the point. Not having enough time to deal with your questions and concerns thoroughly is a serious challenge. A bit of small talk at the beginning of the consultation is fine to break the ice, but keep it to a minimum. Your doctor is not scoring you on personality and will not take it personally if you get right down to the purpose of your visit. One idea is to write down your main questions and concerns beforehand so you can refer to them as a guide during the appointment.

5. Be the patient … not the doctor. Being tuned into your symptoms and aware of any research related to your condition is positive and proactive. However, informing your doctor all about your internet search findings before he or she has had a chance to say anything can be counter-productive. Not only are you wasting valuable consultation time but you are also putting indirect pressure on your doctor to agree with you. No one likes that feeling, to say nothing of the potential risk of misdiagnosis that doing this entails.

June 25, 2014

Gastroenterology in Focus: Celiac Infographic

Always keeping up with health and wellness, some Best Doctors colleagues in Europe built a new infographic on a rare but little-understood condition – celiac disease. While it doesn’t affect many people, because symptoms can be confused with other ailments, those afflicted with celiac may go without a diagnosis for quite a while.

It’s worth calling attention to because Gastroenterology is the fourth most common specialty for Best Doctors’ members who seek an expert case review. This specialty ranks high for cost savings as well – it’s more likely than nearly every other specialty to produce cost savings when members receive an expert medical review, and those savings can average more than $44,000 per case. That’s more than a stomach ache, but it illustrates the significant impact that the right medical intervention can have for patients.

celiac

Always keeping up with health and wellness, some Best Doctors colleagues in Europe built a new infographic on a rare but little-understood condition – celiac disease. While it doesn’t affect many people, because symptoms can be confused with other ailments, those afflicted with celiac may go without a diagnosis for quite a while.

It’s worth calling attention to because Gastroenterology is the fourth most common specialty for Best Doctors’ members who seek an expert case review. This specialty ranks high for cost savings as well – it’s more likely than nearly every other specialty to produce cost savings when members receive an expert medical review, and those savings can average more than $44,000 per case. That’s more than a stomach ache, but it illustrates the significant impact that the right medical intervention can have for patients.

celiac

February 03, 2014

Top 5 Things You Didn’t Know about Your Doctor

Anybody who’s had an unpleasant doctor’s office visit at some point, this one’s for you.

The truth is, doctors are like so many other working professionals today—they have considerable pressure on them to increase output and juggle multiple responsibilities. Sometimes the result is a lackluster experience for the patient (you and me). But it’s by understanding this reality that we’re able to better partner with our doctors, become better advocates for ourselves, and become better consumers of healthcare.

So here are the top 5 things that you may not know about your doctor—

YOUR DOCTOR MAY ONLY HAVE 8 MINUTES FOR YOU

While your doctor wants to spend time with you, crazy schedules, crowds of patients and other system pressures make it difficult. Studies show that you only have about 8 minutes with your doctor. Make each one count.

Best_Marie_and_Sherry_0236YOUR DOCTOR WANTS TO BE YOUR HEALTHCARE PARTNER

Doctors don’t go to med school to ignore patients. In fact, your doctor wants to partner with you in your healthcare. But he or she doesn’t know if you want a partner. Tell your doctor you want to be involved in your care and to share in the decision-making process.

YOUR DOCTOR IS LIKELY TO INTERRUPT AFTER 10 SECONDS

Your doctor isn’t being rude. He or she is trying to help you as quickly as possible. Although studies show that doctors interrupt patients after about 10 seconds, you can get your doctor’s attention by telling a compelling story up front.

YOUR DOCTOR IS WAITING TO POP THE QUESTION

Your doctor is likely to ask a series of “yes” or “no” questions. It’s part of basic medical training. However, real answers often hide in the gray areas. Don’t hesitate to veer from the “yes-no” path and add your own open-ended responses.

YOUR DOCTOR WORKS IN A SYSTEM WHERE 34% OF DIAGNOSES MAY BE INACCURATE

On top of that, as many as 68% of treatment plans require a correction. Do everything you can to make sure your diagnosis is the right one, including having a fresh set of eyes review your case, like a Best Doctors expert specialist. Many physicians expect patients to seek a second opinion and often welcome the collaboration.

Anybody who’s had an unpleasant doctor’s office visit at some point, this one’s for you.

The truth is, doctors are like so many other working professionals today—they have considerable pressure on them to increase output and juggle multiple responsibilities. Sometimes the result is a lackluster experience for the patient (you and me). But it’s by understanding this reality that we’re able to better partner with our doctors, become better advocates for ourselves, and become better consumers of healthcare.

So here are the top 5 things that you may not know about your doctor—

YOUR DOCTOR MAY ONLY HAVE 8 MINUTES FOR YOU

While your doctor wants to spend time with you, crazy schedules, crowds of patients and other system pressures make it difficult. Studies show that you only have about 8 minutes with your doctor. Make each one count.

Best_Marie_and_Sherry_0236YOUR DOCTOR WANTS TO BE YOUR HEALTHCARE PARTNER

Doctors don’t go to med school to ignore patients. In fact, your doctor wants to partner with you in your healthcare. But he or she doesn’t know if you want a partner. Tell your doctor you want to be involved in your care and to share in the decision-making process.

YOUR DOCTOR IS LIKELY TO INTERRUPT AFTER 10 SECONDS

Your doctor isn’t being rude. He or she is trying to help you as quickly as possible. Although studies show that doctors interrupt patients after about 10 seconds, you can get your doctor’s attention by telling a compelling story up front.

YOUR DOCTOR IS WAITING TO POP THE QUESTION

Your doctor is likely to ask a series of “yes” or “no” questions. It’s part of basic medical training. However, real answers often hide in the gray areas. Don’t hesitate to veer from the “yes-no” path and add your own open-ended responses.

YOUR DOCTOR WORKS IN A SYSTEM WHERE 34% OF DIAGNOSES MAY BE INACCURATE

On top of that, as many as 68% of treatment plans require a correction. Do everything you can to make sure your diagnosis is the right one, including having a fresh set of eyes review your case, like a Best Doctors expert specialist. Many physicians expect patients to seek a second opinion and often welcome the collaboration.