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.

 

July 13, 2016

White Paper: Ensuring Medical Quality and Improving Outcomes

White Paper Cover for BlogThe higher cost doesn’t necessarily mean higher quality. In fact, misdiagnosis is rampant in the medical world, affecting hundreds of thousands of people each year.

It’s so common the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reported that most Americans will encounter at least one diagnostic error in their lifetime, sometimes with severe consequences to their mental or physical health. Recent studies have found medical error causes up to 440,000 deaths in the United States. In Canada, misdiagnosis accounts for up to 60,000 deaths per year at its highest estimate—equaling over 20 percent of the country’s total annual deaths.

Though much effort in the medical world has been focused on improving that quality, some care still lags far behind what it should be. Faced with this conundrum, employers are struggling to find the balance between medical care that is both cost-effective and efficient.

Our newest white paper explores the relationship between cost and medical quality, how to identify the top quality medical providers and our recommendations for improving medical quality in your programs.

Download the white paper for free here.

White Paper Cover for BlogThe higher cost doesn’t necessarily mean higher quality. In fact, misdiagnosis is rampant in the medical world, affecting hundreds of thousands of people each year.

It’s so common the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reported that most Americans will encounter at least one diagnostic error in their lifetime, sometimes with severe consequences to their mental or physical health. Recent studies have found medical error causes up to 440,000 deaths in the United States. In Canada, misdiagnosis accounts for up to 60,000 deaths per year at its highest estimate—equaling over 20 percent of the country’s total annual deaths.

Though much effort in the medical world has been focused on improving that quality, some care still lags far behind what it should be. Faced with this conundrum, employers are struggling to find the balance between medical care that is both cost-effective and efficient.

Our newest white paper explores the relationship between cost and medical quality, how to identify the top quality medical providers and our recommendations for improving medical quality in your programs.

Download the white paper for free here.

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.

February 05, 2014

Why Giving Every Patient Access to Lab Results is the Biggest Thing that Happened This Week

This week, the US Department of Health and Human Services issued a pretty significant directive that has not received the attention it really deserves. The new federal rule mandates that clinical laboratories must give patients access to their own lab-test results (without having to go through the physician who ordered the tests.) It is part of an ongoing push to make sure that patients are empowered with information.

For too long, patients have been left on the sidelines during many of the most critical parts of their care. They are often left wondering if the correct course of action is being taken, and if they can speak up to request more information. It ultimately forces individuals and families to leave the most important decisions concerning their lives in the hands of a system that is severely overburdened at best.  Now, by giving everyone access to their own test results, we are beginning to educate and empower patients to be their own best advocates. So much of the guessing game – and hoping that someone else is paying careful attention to my case – is replaced by the power that comes with knowledge.

bloodtest

In a health care universe where published studies are reporting that 15 to 28% of all medical cases are misdiagnosed, actively involved patients armed with vital information can be our best defense. This involves training patients to ask more questions, know their family medical history, seek an expert second opinion, and have pathologies retested. Best Doctors has been advocating this approach for years. Every member who initiates a case for an expert review receives a flash drive holding virtually every piece of vital medical information about that person in one easy to access place. It’s simple really: no one can advocate for your health as strongly as you and your loved ones can. But without the relevant information, that becomes almost impossible.

We only have one life and empowering patients to have more control may mean the difference between living that life and not. We each have the power to prevent a misdiagnosis or unnecessary suffering by asking questions, insisting on answers, and making sure that we and our loved ones get the right care. Getting the diagnosis and treatment plan right should be at the heart of every medical decision, and patients need to play a greater role in those decisions. Granting access to test results is a very first, but significant, step in the right direction.

This week, the US Department of Health and Human Services issued a pretty significant directive that has not received the attention it really deserves. The new federal rule mandates that clinical laboratories must give patients access to their own lab-test results (without having to go through the physician who ordered the tests.) It is part of an ongoing push to make sure that patients are empowered with information.

For too long, patients have been left on the sidelines during many of the most critical parts of their care. They are often left wondering if the correct course of action is being taken, and if they can speak up to request more information. It ultimately forces individuals and families to leave the most important decisions concerning their lives in the hands of a system that is severely overburdened at best.  Now, by giving everyone access to their own test results, we are beginning to educate and empower patients to be their own best advocates. So much of the guessing game – and hoping that someone else is paying careful attention to my case – is replaced by the power that comes with knowledge.

bloodtest

In a health care universe where published studies are reporting that 15 to 28% of all medical cases are misdiagnosed, actively involved patients armed with vital information can be our best defense. This involves training patients to ask more questions, know their family medical history, seek an expert second opinion, and have pathologies retested. Best Doctors has been advocating this approach for years. Every member who initiates a case for an expert review receives a flash drive holding virtually every piece of vital medical information about that person in one easy to access place. It’s simple really: no one can advocate for your health as strongly as you and your loved ones can. But without the relevant information, that becomes almost impossible.

We only have one life and empowering patients to have more control may mean the difference between living that life and not. We each have the power to prevent a misdiagnosis or unnecessary suffering by asking questions, insisting on answers, and making sure that we and our loved ones get the right care. Getting the diagnosis and treatment plan right should be at the heart of every medical decision, and patients need to play a greater role in those decisions. Granting access to test results is a very first, but significant, step in the right direction.