End Of the Year – Top 5 Things To Do Right Now!

It is hard to believe, but the end of the 2018 year is just a month away. Thinking about what to do before its over? Here are our top 5 suggestions to make you a happier and, therefore, healthier person!

Check your spending on supplemental health insurance and health spending account

There may be some physiotherapist, chiropractor or massage therapist money left. Make an appointment to tend to your sore muscles or unaligned bones. Another good one to check is your vision program. Yearly eye exams and a pair of glasses or contacts are usually covered to a certain amount.

Plan a trip!

According to this study planning and anticipating a trip actually bring your happiness levels up. We live in a climate where winters are real, and sometimes just thinking about a nice beach and picturing yourself getting some warm sun gives us the strength to deal with snowstorms and freezing temperatures.

Make time to connect with those that have supported you and made you feel special

Even though we all get so busy before and during the holidays, a morning coffee or a special phone call matter to those that care about you. If you moved around a lot on your life, use Skype to connect and see your friends faces and smiles! It will keep both of you engaged and looking forward to the future – something we sometimes forget to think about when we are facing everyday routines. After all the holiday hustle and bustle is gone you will have something real to lean n – friends and family, your true fans!

Volunteer

Giving up your time for a bigger cause can be very rewarding. You can step outside your usual routine, meet new people and be part of a new organization or simply help your child’s school serve pizza or make classroom materials. Whatever the cause is, stay committed, even if it is an hour a month. Your valuable time contribution can change a person’s life for the better– how great is that?

Celebrate you

Feeling that you do not have time for yourself? Forgot when you were able to relax and stay in bed for an extra hour or took a nice mid-afternoon nap? Do it! Schedule the time in your calendar and treat yourself to the luxury of sleep, pampering or whatever else you have been thinking of these past 6 months. In order to do this successfully a little planning is needed. Your to do list needs to be taken care of and the rest is able to wait till you come out of your You-zone without feeling guilty of taking some time to yourself.

 

3 Top Ways to Get the Best Rate Converting Your CAD to USD

If you are planning to make a large purchase or simply going to spend some time in the US, you may be wondering if the exchange rate from Canadian dollars into the US dollars is going to affect your travel. It most certainly will, and there is not much you can do about the rate itself, however, there are opportunities to get a better rate than what your bank offers.

Credit Card With No Foreign Transaction Fees

As a general rule of thumb, airport exchange booths are the worst places to get a good exchange rate. So avoid those, and since its just south of the border, they are not necessary to use. The next step is to check with your credit card. Your credit card company may charge you foreign transaction fee – usually 2.5 %. In fact, about 99% of them do. So call the number on the back of your card and find out if you are being charged for making purchases in the US.

If you are charged, consider applying for a credit card that doesn’t, like Home Trust Preferred Visa Card. Its one of the very few cards that charges no foreign transaction fees and offers 1% cashback with no limits. There is also $0 annual fee. This card is one of the best to keep in your wallet if you are going to the US and are planning to make a payment for your surgery using a credit card.

Foreign Exchange Service

Another option is to use a low fee foreign transaction service like Knightsbridge Foreign Exchange. It takes a bit of a setup, but the savings can be significant if the amount is over CAD $5000. They can save you up to 2% of your total amount, when compared to the rate exchange at your local bank. For example, if you plan to pay USD $10,000 for a purchase and need to do so by wire transfer, Knightsbridge can save you CAD $210. It may be a hassle for smaller amounts but definitely worth it if you plan to purchase something big.

Specialty Mobile Apps

And last, but not least, all of you snowbirds out there – download Canadian Snowbirds US Stay Counter App. Created by Gerry Scott, it is designed to ease your pains of losing money to conversions fees at your bank and offer you great savings. How does it work? Click here to watch a very short video.

Have any questions about private clinic health expenses in USD and the best way to save money on exchange rates? Contact us – toll free 1 877 344 3544.

The Number of Joint Replacement Surgeries Is on the Rise – What Does It Mean to You?

In the last 15 years, Canada’s population grew by about 5 million people – from a little bit over 30 mil people in 2001 to a bit over 35 mil people in 2016. With the median age of Canadians now at 40.6, the growing age brackets are 45 to 64 and 65 and older, and yes, 90 and older. Great news – we are now living longer!

However, when we get older, health issues may start to appear. Most of us are familiar with arthritis and how debilitating it can be. So far, the only sure way to get rid of it is to have a joint replacement.

If we look at the numbers of joint replacement surgeries, those have increased as well – as probably expected. According to Canadian Institute of Health Information, the total number of hip replacement increased by 17.8% from 2012 to 2017 and the total number of knee replacement went up by 15.5% in the same five year period.

Medical Advances

The good news is that medical advances in joint replacement allow for minimum downtime nowadays. Although not yet widely available in all Canada, same day hip and knee replacements offer benefits. They minimize recovery time and pain and get you back to normal faster. Robotics aid in performing many surgeries nowadays. They allow for a more precise placement of the implant that leads to faster recovery and less room for surgical error, hence complications.

Impact on the Employers

If your employees are over 45 you will probably feel the impact of arthritis and its painful progression on your bottom line. Employees performance and productivity can be affected and the absenteeism may go up. What can you do to prepare?

Employers can help their employees get the minimally invasive joint replacement by offering Health Spending Accounts or covering a percentage of the surgery, should an employee choose to have it done privately, in Canada or the US.

Employers can also implement strategies that focus on safety, ergonomics, and wellness. These programs will contribute to preserving joint health for employees of all ages. A supplemental health insurance that covers physiotherapy will help a person pay for the expenses associated with rehab

Individual Impact

You are probably wondering if you will be waiting longer for a joint replacement surgery. It is not unreasonable to think so. The number of surgeries is going up, and the aging population is growing. Some provinces are investing in hiring more orthopedic surgeons to keep the wait times down.

One way to address the wait list issue is to obtain it privately. It is an investment in yourself and will get you moving and healthy faster.

As for the individual responsibility staying within healthy weight can prevent joint replacement. We wrote another blog (LINK) about the relationship of weight and joint replacement. If surgery is your only option, be prepared to go through rehab. Local support groups are sometimes a good way to socialize with others who had the same surgery.

If you are interested in learning about private minimally invasive joint replacement surgery, Health Vantis can help. Reach out to us at toll-free 877 344 3544.

Weight Management and Your Surgery – Why It Matters

We had written a blog before about the importance of being prepared for your joint replacement surgery. Going through pre-hab is just as important as rehab for many reasons. Surgery is usually the last resort of what we do trying to fix our body.

There is an important shift that occurs while we try all these non-surgical options. Some of them might work for a bit, and some do not. The only sure and known way to improve pain caused by severe arthritis is to have a joint replacement surgery. Yet it is a long journey that slows us down and keeps us less mobile.

So, what happens when we move less? You got it – weight gain, along with other issues. Excessive weight can also be a reason why a person can develop osteoarthritis of the knee – you are wearing your joints out by placing more weight and stressing out your cartilage.

Weight and Surgery Outcomes

The numbers, in this case, do not lie – each pound of weight loss offloads 5-10 pounds from the knee joint. So let us say you lose 5 pounds – your knee just got a relief by at least 25 pounds! If you are a runner (or do any other high impact activity), then the offload is 10-fold – or 50 pounds! According to this study, obese persons were over three times as likely and overweight persons were one and a half times more likely to undergo joint replacement surgery, compared to those in the acceptable weight category in 2003–04.

For hip replacement, the evidence is not as strong between obesity and the need for weight loss. However, there is a definite connection between obesity and surgical outcomes. The risks of infection and dislocation are higher. There are other complications that can occur in obese patients, such as poor wound healing, difficulty breathing, blood clots, blood loss and pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs). Another issue with operating on an overweight person is low visibility for a surgeon. The veins are harder to find in order to administer IV drugs. Thus, the surgery takes longer and there is more blood loss.

Do you know your BMI?

So, are you at risk? If your BMI is greater than 30 your doctor may ask you to lose weight before scheduling the surgery. To figure out your BMI click here. In addition, if you have any secondary conditions such as hypertension or diabetes, then you are even more likely to have your surgery postponed. Weight loss can be controlled in most cases and therefore your doctor will want to reduce the risks and have you lose weight first.

In Canada, the wait list for a joint replacement can be long. The last thing you want to do is delay your surgery because of weight issues. Not only it is very discouraging, but it also keeps you away from getting better.

Try This!

So what can you do? It may sound like you are in a catch 22 here – to lose weight you need to move around, and for you to move around, well you need to have the surgery done! However, there are a couple of things to try.

First and foremost, watch what and how much you are eating. Use an app on your phone such as Lose It! or MyPlate. It will tell you how much you can eat a day to lose a certain amount. It keeps progress during the day as you enter the meals you have eaten. When selecting food, make sure you include lots of fruit and vegetables and try to stay away from pre-packaged baked goods and processed meats.

Secondly, there are some exercises you can do with limited movability. It is worth it to have a session or two with a physiotherapist. She can show you exactly what will work for you in your particular case. If your resources are limited, Youtube and Google search are a good place to start. For example, this article lists 10 must do prehab exercises.

Thirdly, moving around your house, in your backyard, walking your dog, walking in the parking lot – all counts. Using an incumbent bike is easy on your joints and keeps you in motion. Swimming is a great exercise that does not bear pressure on your joints. Join your local pool or swim in the lake or ocean during summer.

November 2018 Newsletter

We can’t believe that November has arrived – 2018 has been a fast and exciting year! In this issue we are putting the spotlight on MDAccess, a company that connects you to a doctor on the phone any time, anywhere. We also talk about Lung Cancer and advancements in diagnostics and treatments, as November is Lung Cancer Awareness month.

MDAccess – Doctor at Your Fingertips

MDAccess allows businesses and individuals to directly connect with a team of Canadian-based nurses and doctors to resolve and document a medical issue. It is designed to help people get medical assistance when and where they need it. We had a pleasure to chat with Mike Vaughan, President of Preventative Healthcare Canada, the company that brings you MDAccess.

Health Vantis: Mike, there has been a lot of press about telehealth as well as some companies emerging that provide these services. Why was MDAccess created and what problem does it solve?  

Mike: MDAccess started over 20 years ago as a service for remote industrial companies that didn’t always have the resources to have a doctor on site.  We recently identified the need and opportunity to offer MDAccess to groups very similar to an employee benefits model.  The biggest benefit of the service is as a member of an MDAccess group the client/patient has immediate access to medical service. No more hours of waiting and wondering. Imagine sitting at home with a severe pain, yet knowing you cannot reach your own doctor by phone and hesitant to travel to the closest emergency department and waiting hours. Make a single phone call and you have immediate access to a nurse and doctor as required! Approximately 85% of the calls that MDAccess receives are resolved on the phone and therefore save patients from having to go to a walk-in clinic or an emergency department.  The benefit is two-fold. We help eliminate unnecessary trips to the doctor, and you can receive advice, guidance and a treatment plan without even having to leave the comfort of your home, office, or even away on work/holidays.  The service is 24/7 and travels with you worldwide! All of this for as little as a dollar a day!

Health Vantis: It is a competitive market out there. What sets you apart from others?

Mike: The biggest differentiator for our service is that we are owned and run by an emergency physician.  Other similar services are operated as a connector service.  As such, you are simply connected to an available Doctor. At MDAccess, all Doctors are employed by MDAccess and work under a disciplined holistic service and reporting standard. We currently have 20+ doctors on our staff, and we are continually fielding requests from physicians that are excited about the opportunity to join the MDAccess team.

Health Vantis: How did you get involved?

Mike: I was first introduced to one of my partners (there are 3 of us that own PHC) by a mutual friend.  He and his brother had already started the company, but were looking for someone who was the right fit to really run with the concept.  We had a lot of conversations about different aspects of our healthcare industry and what we could do to help.  We had, and still do have very similar thoughts on how we could help eliminate some of the strain on healthcare system and provide immediate access to a doctor when needed, without travel or the typical excessive wait times.  It was a great fit right from the start, and it continues to be a collaborative work between us.

Wondering how MDAccess works? 3 easy and simple steps:

  1. complete your and your family’s personal health record
  2. download the app to help self- identify your symptoms and
  3. call the MDAccess number.

You will then speak to a nurse who will perform a comprehensive assessment and connect you to a doctor within minutes. You are covered 24/7. If required, prescriptions can be sent directly to your pharmacy – what a great feature for those that have run out or forgot their medications and are traveling to a different province!

Services are available in French or English to all Canadians. You can even send photos of your medical issue directly to the doctor and all medical information is kept safe and secure.

My favorite feature besides easy access? If I still need to go to ER, the doctor will give me clear and comprehensive instructions on what I need to tell to the ER to save time and get medical help. That is a lifesaver to someone in distress over a medical issue and bridges the communication between doctors so that no time is wasted when I get to the ER.

If you or your company are interested in the service, contact Health Vantis to learn more and subscribe!

 

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

According to Canadian Cancer Society, lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers). It is the leading cause of death from cancer for both men and women in Canada.

Early detection and diagnosis are the key to surviving lung cancer. National lung cancer screening trial that enrolled 50,000 participants revealed that after the six-year follow-up, there was a 20% reduction in lung cancer deaths. In other cancers like breast, the average reduction rate is 3-4%. There was also a 7% reduction in ‘all case’ mortality with patients dying less of other diseases and conditions. As a comparison, it takes 320 lung cancer screens to prevent one lung cancer death while it takes 600 colonoscopies to detect one case of colon cancer.

In 2016 The Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care released a new guideline recommending annual lung cancer screening in high risk adults ages 55-74. This was a huge step forward.

Lung cancer is a disease that has been stigmatized due to its association with smoking.  However, as many as 15% of lung cancer patients are life long NON-smokers, and 50% of patients diagnosed with lung cancer have quit before the time of diagnoses. Although smoking remains the greatest risk factor for this disease there are others. Exposure to environmental hazards such as radon, asbestos, arsenic beryllium and uranium have been linked to lung cancer. Radiation increases the risk of developing lung cancer. Disease such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and TB may increase the risk as well. Lung cancer risk increases with age – only about 10% of lung cancer cases occur in people younger than 50 years old. People that are born with poor lungs can also get lung cancer.

According to the International Association For the Study of Lung Cancer, the below are the early symptoms. If you are experiencing any of them, please discuss them with your family doctor.

  1. Coughing, especially if it persists or becomes intense
  2. Pain in the chest, shoulder, or back unrelated to pain from coughing
  3. A change in color or volume of sputum
  4. Shortness of breath
  5. Changes in the voice or being hoarse
  6. Harsh sounds with each breath (stridor)
  7. Recurrent lung problems, such as bronchitis or pneumonia
  8. Coughing up phlegm or mucus, especially if it is tinged with blood
  9. Coughing up blood
  10. Pain or aching in your chest, shoulder, back or an arm

 

What are the advances in detecting and treating lung cancer?

CT scans to detect early lung cancer

People that used to smoke and quit have been long ignored for the testing of lung cancer because X-rays have not been able to pick up small nodules that could morph into cancer. Now a CT scan provides 3D images of the lungs. The doctors can look for nodules, which on a scan appear like a shadow. Finding something in the lungs doesn’t necessarily mean cancer. Nodules can be scar tissue or inflammation and about 95% of nodules are.

Immunotherapy

Revolutionary immunotherapies have doubled life expectancy in some lung cancer patients by leveraging the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. Discoveries of new molecular biomarkers such as EGFR, are helping doctors find better ways to target variations among lung cancer tumors, leading to more effective drug treatments. Combination therapies that use a mix of traditional chemotherapies and cutting-edge immunotherapies are making big inroads in treating lung cancer, especially among patients with later stage disease that has spread beyond the lungs.

Surgery For Small Nodules– Microcoil Localization

Very small tumors, or nodules, have not been traditionally operated on due to their small size. Smaller size nodules have less solid component to them and are deeper in the lung tissue so surgeons could not be confident they can feel it.  So larger incisions had to be made, which lead to more invasive surgeries and more trauma to the patient.

Microcoil Localization technique evolved out of a need to reliably identify smaller nodules in the lung for removal. Microcoil localization uses CT images to help the radiologist place a small wire coil into the nodule so the surgeon can find it and remove it.

Microcoil is a special wire that’s been designed to coil on both ends. The radiologist places the wire at the right depth using a CT scanner that shows exactly where the nodule is. This can be done without having to make any incisions; rather the coil is placed using a needle that’s loaded with a flexible platinum wire. After the wire has been placed by the radiologist, the surgeon takes over, using a camera to find the wire. The surgeon then conducts a wedge resection, removing a wedge-shaped portion of tissue surrounding the nodule. The removed tissue is tested immediately and if the patient needs additional surgery, it can be done right then and there.