Private Surgery in the US: Doctor’s Credentials

Going for surgery is a big undertaking. Worries and doubts can be overwhelming. One of the things you can do to ease your pre-surgery anxiety is to check your surgeon’s credentials and online reviews.

In the USA, each state has a medical board and every practising physician must have a license issued by the medical board in the state they practice. State boards also can take disciplinary and corrective actions against the members. So if there are any disciplinary actions against a doctor in the past, they would be reflected on the state medical board website. The states are only required to list that particular state’s information, and if your surgeon lived and practised in other states, it may be useful to look those up as well.

In addition to required state board certification, there are board certifications by the speciality boards. In the US, there are three organizations that certify Medical Doctors and Doctors of Osteopathy. The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the American Osteopathic Association Bureau of Osteopathic Specialties (AOABOS), and the American Board of Physician Specialties cover 26 recognized medical specialities. If a doctor is certified by a speciality board, it means that he or she has chosen to achieve expertise in a medical speciality or subspecialty. The certification is a highly visible indicator that the doctor is committed to providing quality patient care and knows today’s standards of practice.

In addition, there are many other self-designated boards. These boards can be established by anyone and the criteria for certification is established by a group of physicians. The requirements for membership are much less rigorous than the above-mentioned board certifications.

Online reviews can also tell more about the patient experience with a given doctor. While not everyone who had a pleasant experience will be writing a positive review, the presence of many or the majority of negative reviews is a sign that a further investigation may be required.

Health Vantis does all this groundwork for you, and present you with your doctor’s credentials. We can help you get private medical care with positive outcomes without the wait. Contact us at 877 344 3544 to find out more.

Crossing the US-Canada Border for Medical Reasons

If you are travelling to the United States for a surgery or a medical procedure there are some things to consider and be aware of. Canadian citizens and permanent residents do not require a visa to enter the US. However, there are certain points to keep in mind.

  • Cannabis is illegal in the United States

This one is very serious. It is illegal to bring any cannabis or cannabis products into the US, including prescription cannabis, CBD oils and others.

  • State the reason for your visit clearly and do no make anything up

In recent years we have seen a slight shift in the amount of subjective authority the border officers are given to evaluate someone entering the US. If an officer detects you are not telling the truth even in the matter not relating to your trip, he or she can assume you are not being truthful in any of your explanations. So, speak the truth – always!

  • Have proof of financial support at home

We have seen clients turned away from entering the US because they could not verify that they are able to pay for their medical service in the US.  It can be interpreted that they can potentially present risks to become a burden to the already monetarily stressed healthcare in the US. This is a rare occurrence. However, it is helpful to bring with you a recent bank statement from your bank at home to show that you are able to pay for the procedure. This will help avoid any delays or appointments missed.

While these three things may seem trivial, they are sometimes overlooked. Hiring a medical facilitator will help you keep everything together and ensure that your medical travel goes smoothly and without any delays. Contact Health Vantis for your free evaluation, toll-free 1 877 344 3544.

Pre-Op Testing – What Is Needed?

Once you make your decision to proceed with the surgery Health Vantis makes all the arrangements for you. One of the moving parts of preparation for surgery is pre-op testing. The requirements can be different, depending on the procedure you require and your individual health.

The two most common tests the doctors we work with ask our clients to complete is bloodwork and EKG. Blood work within the last 3 months prior to surgery is usually accepted. If more recent blood work is required, you can schedule a visit with your family doctor and ask for a requisition of what is needed. It usually takes a couple of days to get the results and those can also be picked up at your family doctor.

If you are over 65 and/or have high blood pressure or other cardiological issues, an EKG test is required. In most provinces, it is fairly easy to get. Again, this can be done through your family doctor.

If the results of the EKG are concerning, a cardiological clearance is required. This one is not as easily obtained as the EKG or blood work. Most of the facilities we work with can suggest a local cardiologist that can schedule a consult on short notice to accommodate your surgery date. The cost varies per doctor and location and will be communicated to you by Health Vantis upfront.

Sometimes, when there is a GYN surgery involved, the surgeon would like to see the results of the most recent PAP test. This is done to ensure the overall health of the client is acceptable for surgery.

If you are considering private surgery and have any questions, we are here to help!

Medical Traveler’s Concern: Do People Die On The Operating Table?

With Medical Travel, people are often concerned about a possible surgery mishap.  It can be a scary process of going to another country and trusting a doctor you most likely haven’t met to provide you with a successful outcome.  One of the biggest misconceptions and fears is that you could die during the surgery.  Yes, that is certainly a risk, however, very uncommon.  Less than 1% of people will die on the operating table.  Most of the time the risk of death and complications occur after a patient is discharged to go home.

Post Operative Care

Preparing to recover after surgery is not just a mental thing to be ready for.  Probably the most important factor is how your after care is structured.  The 3 most common complications associated with death after a surgery are:  major bleeding, heart damage and infection.

Surgery causes an inflammation reaction in your body.  Immediately after surgery, you are most likely going to be on pain killers or Experal, an extended form of numbing medicine.  These drugs can sometimes mask a significant complication such as coagulation, which can lead to blood clots or heart failure.

Research shows that the postoperative care in a home setting is where the focus needs to be.  It is crucial that you have someone with you after surgery for a minimum of 24 hours. Forty-eight hours is even better to help you identify any signs of complications.  Listening to your body and doing exactly what the doctor has told you in your post op instructions is important.  Trying to do more than you are ready for, even at 5-6 weeks out, can cause a significant set back.

Surgery is a traumatic shock to your body.  It needs time to heal.  You might feel like you are ready to resume normal activities because you are experiencing little pain.  This is greatly in part to the pain killers you are most likely taking.  These mask the pain associated with your recent surgery.  Trying to do more than you are ready to because you ‘feel’ great or have a good day, prior to your incision healing, can cause bleeding and/or even re-injury.   

Sepsis

Sepsis is also a great concern.  Most surgeries are now done on an outpatient basis, which reduces your chance for infection.  However, that still doesn’t mean it can’t happen.  If you are traveling out of the US and Canada, the risk for antibiotic resistant infections is much higher.  To avoid this, verifying the hospital is JCI accredited will provide a piece of mind that their regulations are the same as those in the US and Canada should an infection occur.

Complications coverage is available if you wish to be protected in the event you do have a complication, even after you are back home in Canada.  You can find more information about it here.

Health Vantis

www.healthvantis.ca

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com

 

Private Surgery In Canada and Beyond

While healthcare is free to all Canadians, we are all aware that we do pay for it through taxes and that access to it can be limited. Oftentimes Canadians experience lengthy wait times for some surgeries and lack of training and proper equipment for the latest surgical technologies and advances. Health Vantis helps connect Canadians with private surgical and treatment facilities that have no waitlists and can be arranged as fast as 1-2 weeks.

Some private surgical facilities exist in Canada, but there are very few and limited to what they can do, and, surprisingly, how fast they can accommodate. Through the years we have found that access to private surgery in Canada is also a bit of a wait, however, not nearly as bad as the public system.

Often times we get calls from people that are at the end of their patience reserves and need help asap. In most cases, we can help. We have a unique system of working with different medical facilities and select the best suited for our client’s needs. We do not get paid by medical facilities and connect our clients with the most appropriate, experienced and trained doctor for their ailment. Other facilitators may contract out with medical facilities which means that they will only send you tp one place, where they get paid.

Being honest and transparent with our clients is our priority. You will know the costs upfront, and there is never a hidden fee. We send our clients to the facilities we visited so that they have peace of mind. If you have any questions or concerns, we will stay with you all the way through your medical journey until you are back home.

If you are interested in learning more about how to get your surgery in a private manner give us a call toll-free 877 344 3544 and we will be happy to help!

September 2019 Newsletter

We welcome September as the first month of the Fall, still warm and beautiful, with crisper air and golden leaves peeking through. Things start settling into routines as we head towards cooler weather. In this issue, we bring to you some news about a promising new Alzheimer’s blood test, some information on how to get your medical records in Canada and a list of Medical travel Do’s and Don’t.

September is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. It is progressive and not reversible, causing memory problems that become severe over time. Eventually, people with Alzheimer’s can not perform their daily tasks.

Detection and Diagnosis

Diagnostic methods have improved in recent years, but there is still not a single diagnostic test to determine if someone has Alzheimer’s disease. A number of tools and tests are used to help with diagnosis. They usually include physical exam and review of medical history, a neurological exam, mental status test and brain imaging, such as CT scan or/and MRI. All other diseases should be ruled out prior to diagnosing someone with dementia.

Early Diagnosis

Getting an early accurate diagnosis is beneficial for several reasons. The person is able to participate actively in their own health-care decisions and future plans. They are able to focus on what is important to them, make informed decisions about legal, financial and care matter and ensure that their families and friends know.

Starting medications early, when they are most effective, is another benefit. While current medications can not stop the damage Alzheimer’s causes to brain cells, they may lessen or stabilize symptoms for a limited time. Also, people that are diagnosed early are able to participate in clinical trials of new medications and diagnostic tools. All current medications help mask the symptoms of the disease but do not treat the underlying causes or delay its progression. Several new medications are in development and testing. However, they need more volunteers. Trials are recruiting people with Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive impairment, as well as healthy individuals to be controls. To find out more about participation in a clinical trial click here.

Future of early diagnosis

Two proteins are linked to Alzheimer’s disease, one is called tau and the other one is beta-amyloid. The disease is described as having tangles and plaques on brain MRI images. Tau forms tangles and beta-amyloid form plaques in the brain.

Tau proteins play a vital role in how nutrients and other important materials are transported in the brain and keep the brain cells alive. In unhealthy brain areas, tau protein collapses and twists, thus “tangles”. These tangles prevent nutrients from reaching brain cells, resulting in cell death.

Beta-amyloids molecules clump and those clumps form plaques. As plaques spread, the cells of the brain are unable to receive signals between nerve cells and cause cells to die.

Beta-amyloid spreads throughout the brain at an early stage, decades before the patient notices signs of the disease. Tau, on the other hand, starts to spread at a later stage, from the temporal lobes to other parts of the brain.

Early detection of these proteins enables earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer. Two of the recent detection research findings are worth noting.

The first one is a tau-PET scan. Researchers developed a PET scan to determine the presence of tau. When tau begins to spread the neurons start dying and patients start experiencing the first problems with the disease. A tau-PET scan detected 90-95% of all causes of Alzheimer and only gave a few false positives in patients with other diseases.

The second one just recently made the news. It is a blood test that can identify Alzheimer’s almost 20 years before symptoms appear. The blood test developed can detect the start of beta-amyloids build up in the brain. PET scans can already detect these build-ups, so researchers looked at the results of the newly developed blood test and the results of the PET scans. They saw that the results agreed 88% of the time. In an attempt to refine the results and improve the blood test accuracy the researchers then took into account other risk factors such as age and a specific genetic variant. The accuracy went up to 94%!

Also of importance is the fact that those participants flagged as false positives based on the results of their PET scans showed positive test results years later. This may suggest that some of the early blood tests were more sensitive than the brain scans in detecting the disease in the very early stages.

Blood tests are much easier and faster to perform than PET scans and if these findings are approved then Alzheimer’s will be easier to diagnose, treat early and recruit participants in clinical trials.

To learn more about these two researches we provided the links to the first one here and the second one here. To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease click here.

Medical Records and How to Obtain Them in Canada

When we start working with a prospective client, we ask them to collect and submit their medical records for a doctor’s review. This part of our process sometimes takes the longest. We came across a few cases where people were unaware how to get them, other than asking their family doctor. Asking your family doctor will probably get you as far as the visits in her office and sometimes blood work, but other important records can be at a hospital or a diagnostics facility you were treated at.

So how do you get your medical records at a hospital or a diagnostic facility? Under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), a request must be made in writing. Depending on the province you reside in the request can be usually faxed or emailed to a hospital’s Health Records Department. They, in turn, have up to 30 days to provide you with an electronic or paper copy of your medical records. There is a small charge involved in this and usually depends if you wanted your diagnostic records on a CD, if you prefer printed copies, etc. The fees range between $35-$85, from our experience, although they may change in the future.

In Nova Scotia, where we are based, all the records have to be requested by either faxing or emailing in a request form.

In Alberta, you can access your medical records online. Once you create an account and digital ID, you should be able to view your records any time.

In British Columbia, you will need to reach out to your local health authority. This can also be done online. For example, for those belonging to Island Health, you can go here, or if you are under Vancouver Coastal Health the form can be found here

In Ontario, the process is very similar to that of BC. You will need to contact the Health Information custodian and submit a form via fax or email. Health Information custodians are defined as doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, labs, etc. We always advise calling the hospital or facility you were treated at and ask them what their processes and fees are, as they may have their own form to fill out.

Other provinces have similar rules and processes.

Getting medical records can take time and patience. Health Vantis can do this for you, provided the proper forms are filled out and signed by you, our client. For more info, please contact us at toll-free 1 877 344 3544 or by email info@healthvantis.com

 

Medical Travel Do’s and Don’ts

Travelling for medical reasons can be complicated. Not only someone is stressed about their surgery or treatment there are other things to consider when planning a trip to get better. Here we highlight a few do and don’t items to help you plan your medical journey successfully.

DO:

  • Do all the research you can about the doctor and the facility you are going to. Ask if you can talk to some of the doctor’s patients. Sometimes it is possible. Doing your own research will help you make a better decision on where to go for treatment. If you are short on time and are not able to do all the research, consider hiring a medical travel facilitator. A good medical travel facilitator will be able to provide you with feedback on the doctor and the facility.
  • Ask your doctor questions about your procedure. Make sure you understand the risks and possible outcomes. Knowing these things will help you keep calm before and after surgery. Stress hinders recovery and can affect surgical outcomes.
  • Find out the exact pricing and what additional items you may be charged for. This one is sometimes very tough, but most of the time once a doctor reviewed your medical records, they will be able to provide you with an accurate estimate
  • Communicate with your doctor in Canada. It is a good idea to bring up the intent to travel 4-6 weeks before you plan to go. Your medical provider needs to know about your plans because she or he will be able to give you some valuable advice beforehand as well as see you after you come back home.

DON’T

  • Make a selection of the doctor and facility based on price only. Ensure that you will be receiving treatment in a safe manner by a qualified doctor and at a certified facility with known outcomes. Many news stories covered cheap surgeries in the Dominican Republic and Mexico that ended badly. Be wise, and when in doubt, ask questions.
  • Give up on an exercise program or a healthy diet. Even if your mobility is limited, there are a number of programs that allow for gentle exercises, such as swimming (for those with back pain) or walking. Eating healthy will keep your weight in check and prevent unnecessary weight gain.
  • Expect the results overnight. Any surgery is a serious medical procedure and the recovery may be lengthy no matter if you had it at the best place and by the best surgeon possible.

Private Laparoscopic Hysterectomy

Hysterectomy is the removal of the uterus and sometimes ovaries. It is one of the most common surgical procedures in Canada.  It’s considered a major surgery.  For many women suffering from painful fibroids, heavy bleeding, or other gynecological problems, it’s a life-changing procedure. Just a few years back there was only one option to surgery- a traditional approach, open surgery with six weeks recovery time.  The advances in technology now allow for less invasive ways, such as laparoscopic and robotic hysterectomies. Today we will highlight laparoscopic hysterectomy.

A laparoscopic hysterectomy is a minimally invasive surgery to remove the uterus with less pain and faster recovery time.  A small incision is made in the belly button and a tiny camera is inserted. The surgeon watches the image from this camera on a TV screen and performs the operative procedure. Two or three other tiny incisions are made in the lower abdomen. Specialized instruments are inserted and used to remove the uterus.

The recovery time is much shorter with this procedure – about 2 weeks. Studies also show that this is a safe procedure, with little complication rates and fewer infection rates that a traditional hysterectomy as it requires less cutting and less time spent in the hospital. It is an outpatient procedure and requires no stay at the hospital.

A surgeon has to have the proper training to perform this procedure. The waitlists for laparoscopic hysterectomy average from 5-6 months to over a year, depending on which province you reside in. If you are interested in getting this done sooner in a safe, affordable and private manner we can help. We can set you up for a private laparoscopy hysterectomy surgery in 2 weeks, provided you have your medical records and are a fit for this type of surgery. Contact us for more details , a free one-hour evaluation and approximate cost for laparoscopic hysterectomy, toll-free 1 877 344 3544

Read our blog next Wednesday – we will present information about private robotic hysterectomy!

Who Would Benefit From Medical Travel

Who Would Benefit From Medical Travel

Medical travel, otherwise known as medical tourism, has been around for many years.  Yet, it seems to have gained more popularity in the past decade.  There are many reasons as to why someone would travel for medical treatment but exactly who would benefit from medical travel?  The answer is if your quality of life has been hampered, you are unable to work, losing money as a result or the pain is unbearable, then you would benefit.  

Elective Procedures

In an urgent case, getting treated in a timely fashion usually happens.  When it does not involve a medical emergency, the provincial government heath plans consider these elective procedures and/or non-urgent.  It doesn’t mean that the provincial insurance won’t cover what you need to have done, in most cases, however, you may just have to wait.  When it involves something that creates limitations in your day to day health, then it sure seems like it is urgent.  Constant pain is physically limiting and distracting with difficulties in focusing .  This will create a decrease in your productivity or ability to work.   

In other instances, it could be a cost benefit for surgeries such as elective plastic surgery or dental procedures.  The cost for these surgeries is not covered by the provincial government health plans and can be pretty pricey to pay out of pocket.  Therefore, one may opt to have things done elsewhere.

Procedures Not Available In Home Country

Availability for cutting edge and newer techniques are not always a luxury we have access to.  In many situations, a more involved surgery might be determined solely on the fact that the surgeon doesn’t have the appropriate training or tools to do a less invasive type of procedure.  There are other cases where the procedure or technology is simply not available such as in a cancer case.  In these scenarios, it is prudent to research your options.  Getting a second opinion is the best way to navigate this and explore your options.  You just may find something you didn’t know existed and be a better treatment for you.

Health Vantis

www.healthvantis.ca

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com

Organ Transplants and Medical Tourism

Organ Transplants and Medical Tourism

From time to time we get calls and emails from individuals seeking organ transplants.  The requests not only come from Canadians but individuals from other countries looking to come to Canada or the US for the surgery.  Organ transplant cases are probably the most complex kind we could ever assist in because there are so many variables and factors to account for when making arrangements for such a surgery.

Black Market

For starters, we cannot help someone locate an organ for them.  This is actually illegal in all countries around the world, with the exception of Iran.  Despite these prohibitions, the trafficking of organs is still done globally on what they call the ‘Black Market’.  People are willing to sell their organ(s), such as a kidney, in exchange for money.  It’s pretty evident why this would and should not be allowed.  

Having A Match As A Donor

Some of the calls we’ve gotten are from individuals that have a family member that is a match for them.  In cases like this, we can help, however, the requirements and financial aspects of having it done privately can be quite stringent and cost prohibitive  For someone coming from another country to the US or Canada, certain requirements have to be met prior to a hospital even considering doing the surgery. 

The out of pocket expense to have an organ transplant surgery would start around $100K USD and go up.  The hospital would not only require proof of financial means to pay for the surgery through a verifiable source, but also need proof that the recipient has the financial means or insurance for the follow up care, which is life long, and very expensive.  In addition, they would require proper testing to have been done on the donor such as a physical exam, immunological tests, multiple lab and tissue tests, EKG, chest x-ray, psychological evaluation, urine samples and several others should the surgeon feel they are warranted.  The US & Canada also require a Visa to enter if you are from certain countries.  This would need to be approved in advance as well.

Being A Donor

Unfortunately, waiting for the appropriate organ can take several months to several years.  Not everyone is successful in finding a match.  One thing you can do to help contribute to those in need is to become a donor should you pass away unexpectedly.  The process for registering is very quick, simple and the database is connected nationally. 

There is also living donation should you be interested.  Living donors can give a kidney, bone marrow and partial lung, pancreas, intestine or liver.  This of course, is out of the goodness of your heart as you will not receive any kind of monetary incentive.  Things such as plasma and blood are also considered donations that are always needed.  For information on how you can be a donor, please visit: https:// www.theorganproject.net

 

Health Vantis

www.healthvantis.ca

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com

Private PET Scan

Positron emission tomography (PET) scan is a diagnostic test that uses small amounts of radioactive chemical to show activity within the body on a cellular level. It helps doctors see how the organs and tissues inside your body are functioning. This test can be used to help diagnose or to evaluate how well a treatment is working.

PET scans are usually done to detect cancer, to evaluate the effectiveness of a cancer treatment therapy, to identify heart disease or a brain disorder. They measure blood flow, oxygen use, how your body uses sugar and much more. It is usually an outpatient procedure and takes about 2 hours.

PET scans can detect very early changes in your cells. CT scans and MRIs can only detect changes later, as a disease alters the structure of your organs or tissues. Sometimes a combination of two scans, CT and PET, is used to get a more well-rounded picture of the health issue.

If you are on a medical wait list to get a PET scan and do not wish to wait, we can arrange it privately. Give us a call to find out more details. Toll free 1 877 344 3544.