Private Surgery After Covid-19

With medical wait times increasing for elective surgeries due to Covid-19 restrictions, some of you may be searching for information about your potential private options. Below is an update on what is being done or considered being done at the private surgical facilities we work with in the US.

As you already know, some of the southern United States lifted a number of restrictions. Depending on the state, many are resuming elective surgeries. Certain safety provisions and requirements must be met. Those are mandated by the state’s Department of Public Health.

Each facility we work with is accredited not only by the state (which is a requirement) but by another accrediting body in the US. We reached out to two of them, AAAASF (American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities) and AAAHC (Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Healthcare) to ask what they have in place.

AAACH advised that they have a number of resources available to their members on their website, but that they defer to a state department of public health for further guidance on reopening as those will differ from state to state.

AAAASF offered a similar answer and added that they conduct onsite resurvey and that they ask all facilities in their resurvey year reopening to submit policies and procedures to ensure that all infection control and patient safety requirements are in place.

Health Vantis is keeping an eye on the states governments announcements and their public health departments directives. So far, we see that there are several things that are being mandated by each opening state, such as pre-op COVID testing requirement: negative Covid-19 test results within 48h or 7 days, depending on the state. Some require staff and doctors continuous testing as well.  Another one is sufficient supplies of PPE to be stocked at a facility and enhanced cleaning protocols.

We are also keeping in touch with all the facilities we work with so that we get pertinent information on their developments. It is not clear yet how soon we will be able to send someone for medical travel. In our next blog we will talk about when it will be safe to travel for medical reasons.

Meanwhile, there are certain things you are still able to do remotely:

  • Reach out to your physiotherapist or chiropractor to ask them what exercises you can do at home. If your condition changed, be sure to mention all the details.
  • If your condition worsens dramatically, contact your doctor to tell them the new information. Most family doctors are able to do a phone consultation or a virtual appointment.
  • Consider your private options for the future. By getting a medical records review done with Health Vantis you are not obligated to proceed. However, should you decide that your post-COVID wait time is too long, you will be ready.

When Is It Safe to Travel for Medical Reasons?

Just yesterday our top public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said that we need to approach opening the border with the US with extreme caution. If you are looking to get your surgery done in a private manner your choices of private medical facilities in Canada are limited. The closest destination is the USA.

Here are our considerations of why people may wait or may go to get their private surgery in the US. In this blog, we assume that there are no travel restrictions between the two countries. It may take a while to get there.

Before considering travelling for a private surgery one must consider travelling in general. It can be done by car or plane. Travel by car may be perceived as safer, as you are only sharing the space with 1-2 people.  Canadians will try to stay as close to home as possible, understandably so. There are just a couple of private surgical facilities in this country and we are keeping in touch with them to determine if and when they reopen, we can advise our potential clients. For now, we still offer second opinions, phone consults and review of medical records in a virtual or remote manner.

Travelling by air will require some assurance from the airlines that it is done in the safest manner possible. Transport Canada now requires that all guests have a non-medical mask or face covering during travel. Air Canada is implementing a plan to have mandatory temperature checks, more personal space, electrostatic cabin spraying, and PPE for its crew and customer service. WestJet provides seat distancing, fresh air into the cabin every 2-3 minutes and hospital quality filters, and limited food and beverage service.

Certain measures have to be in place from the hospital’s perspective to even consider doing private surgeries. Sufficient stocks of PPE, anaesthetic drugs, ventilators and COVID-19 pre-op testing are among the musts.

All the above listed are external reasons for a person to feel safe to be able to travel. There are internal reasons as well. Those are based on each individual particular situation and habits. It may depend on how severe your issue is and how long you are willing to wait. People that are more risk-takers will start travelling sooner. Those that are more averse to risk will stay and wait, monitoring news about medical travel and its results. Once there are a couple of successful travel cases, we will see more interest in travelling for medical reasons.

For now, we are still able to offer remote second opinions, consultations and review of medical records. Those action items can provide you with more information about your condition and will give you a head start should you choose to go the private route. For more information call us toll-free 877 344 3544.

How Long Will I Be Waiting for My Elective Surgery After Covid-19?

Many Canadians are asking this question. We deal with medical wait times even with no pandemics.  Now that all the healthcare resources are directed towards treating Covid-19 patients, rightfully so, those who had a surgery cancelled or postponed are facing a lot of uncertainty, more than ever. They are patiently waiting in pain to find out when they will be seen by a specialist or when their new surgery is going to take place.

So, how long? Here is what we know from the recent articles published in the media. This article states that after the SARS epidemic in Toronto in 2003 when elective surgeries were suspended for a number of weeks, it took months. It doesn’t state how many months or how many surgeries were postponed. CBC News estimated close to 100,000 patients had their surgeries delayed. Sounds like a lot, but we really can’t tell what that means in terms of catch up time. It is possible that hospitals are able to catch up quickly.

However, many news reports state the difficulties of reopening and all the challenges that may arise with its safe implementation. In this article, the issues of asymptomatic COVID cases, the availability of PPEs, anesthetic drugs and ventilators are raised. Most likely everyone scheduled for surgery will have to get a negative COVID-19 test within a certain time frame prior to the surgery. So that is an additional burden on the testing centers. What we see in the US, those states that are reopening their elective surgery require a negative test within 48h to 7 days, depending on the state.

Provincial governments and healthcare professionals are keenly aware of this situation. The process of addressing the wait times will have to be gradual. There is a potential, some say, inevitable, of the second wave of COVID-19. Our healthcare resources are tied. We have to be patient. That doesn’t mean just sit and wait. Here are some things you can do.

  • Reach out to your physiotherapist or chiropractor to ask them what exercises you can do at home. If your condition changed, be sure to mention all the details.
  • If your condition worsens dramatically, contact your doctor to tell them the new information. Most family doctors are able to do a phone consultation or a virtual appointment.
  • Consider your private options for the future. By getting a medical records review done with Health Vantis you are not obligated to proceed. However, should you decide that your post-COVID wait time is too long, you will be ready.

In our next blog, we will talk about private surgery after COVID-19.

If you have any questions regarding your private surgical options in other provinces or in the US, please reach out to us toll-free 877 344 3544.

Private Hip Replacement Cost

The wait times for a hip replacement in the public system can be long. Many Canadians do not wish to wait and are looking for private hip replacement options in Canada, US and other countries.  Cost considerations for a private hip replacement can lead to a long search on internet and phone calls to multiple places. Some medical facilities are able to give the pricing right away and some require multiple follow up and even then, it may not be possible to get the total price.

Health Vantis does all the logistical work for you, so you can focus on your health. We have established relationships with certain facilities in the US and Canada. We are able to provide you with a range for bundled pricing when you call. Bundled pricing includes the facility fee, anaesthesia fee and surgeon fees. Knowing the price for your private hip replacement is very important. However, price alone should not be the deciding factor in your decision where to go for surgery.

Things like surgeon’s reputation, facility accreditation and proximity to your home should be considered. If you are going to fly somewhere, make sure that you select flights that are 4 hours or less. Flights over 4hours increase the risk of DVTs considerably. It may be cheap to go to India, but you will be flying across the world.

In addition, pricing in Canada and the US can be comparable considering all the costs involved. Health Vantis works with accredited, pre-vetted facilities that offer safe and affordable private hip replacement. The price will differ depending on the location you chose to go to and will start at about CAD $25,000. *

If you are considering a private hip replacement, give us a call to get more information toll-free 877 344 3544.

*Prices may change without notice

Private Endometriosis Surgery

Endometriosis happens when tissue that grows on the inside of the uterus grows on the outside of it as well. The misplaced tissue often attaches itself to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel or bladder. It can spread to other organs as well. Just like the lining of the uterus that bleeds every month during menstruation so does the tissue that grows outside the uterus. But because the bleeding happens in areas where there is no easy way of out of the body it causes inflammation and swelling. Women with severe endometriosis may have heavy and painful menstrual cycles and sometimes may also have problems getting pregnant.

Endometriosis can not be cured, but there are options to make you feel better. The non surgical options include pain management, hormone birth control, hormone treatment and other medications.

Surgical options, such as laparoscopy, can be recommended for mild to moderate endometriosis. It is done using a laparoscope, a small lighted viewing instrument to look for signs of endometriosis. The endometriosis implants and scar tissue are removed by cutting (excision) or can be destroyed with a laser beam or electric current. Hysterectomy treats more severe endometriosis.

The wait times for laparoscopy vary depending on the province you live in.  If you were told that the wait is long, and you are unwilling to wait, we can help arrange a private endometriosis surgery. Give us a call to find out the details toll-free 877 344 3544

Private Knee Replacement Cost

If you were put on a long wait list to get you knee replaced, and are exploring your private options, you are probably wondering if you can afford one. Many Canadians travel outside their province or country to get a surgery or procedure in a private manner, without the wait. Cost considerations are very important. Many will do the search on their own, contacting hospitals and surgical centres in the US and Canada. Often it takes some time and persistence to get a firm, bundled price.

Health Vantis takes care of all the logistics and planning of your medical travel for you. We established relationships with medical facilities in the US and Canada and are usually able to provide a range for the cost of your private knee replacement. We try to match up our clients with the closest facility to their home town, whenever possible. We do this so that the actual travel stays to a minimum and the flights do not exceed 4h, to reduce the risk of DVTs.

Price for your private knee replacement is important, but it should not be the only factor in your decision-making. Consider the reputation of the surgeon and the facility, as well as the number of surgeries performed by the doctor a year. Those numbers are important because the old saying “practice makes perfect” stands here as well. Although there is no magic number that make a surgeon proficient, 5 years of experience and at least 30 surgeries a year is a good start.

Health Vantis will provide you with the information about the surgeon and the facility prior to your decision to go ahead with the surgery. If you wanted to speak with the doctor, we can arrange that too. If you are contemplating a private knee replacement and need to know the costs and what is involved, give us a call toll free 877 344 3544 and we would be happy to help!

Is It Safe to Have Private Surgery at an Outpatient (Ambulatory) Facility?

Advances in surgical techniques and modern medicine allow less invasive, less cutting surgeries, and therefore faster recoveries. Many surgeries can now be done in an outpatient facility, or ambulatory surgical center. In fact, about 60% of al surgical procedures in the United States are performed as an outpatient surgery. After the surgery, you would stay for a few hours at the center, and then go home to continue recovery in a familiar setting and your own bed. But is it safe to do so?

The answer will depend on your general health and the type of surgery. The researchers identified seven main risk factors:

  • being overweight
  • being obese
  • obstructive lung disease
  • hypertension
  • past history of heart attack or stroke
  • previous cardiac intervention
  • prolonged operating room time.

If any of these apply to you, there should be a discussion with your doctor about having surgery at a hospital. This is true even if the surgery is considered low risk. Inpatient surgery will have you stay overnight and more, if need be. It is also suggested that being over 65 years old carries more risk, although age alone should not be used to qualify someone for an outpatient surgery.

All surgeries carry risk. Some have more than others. It is important to understand the potential risks of your particular surgery. Research suggests that certain procedures may be more problematic when carried out on an outpatient basis. Talk with your doctor about the risks involved.

If you are generally healthy, and your surgery is low risk, then outpatient surgical facility may be an option for your private surgery. A recent study published in The Spine Journal looked at insurance database for a single neck surgery – posterior cervical foraminotomy and looked at what the outcomes were. The groups were pretty comparable in age, gender and health conditions. Those that had surgery in the hospital had much higher rates of infections, wound complications, respiratory failure and urinary tract infection compared to those who had an outpatient surgery.

Some other important benefits of outpatient surgery are lower cost and recovering in the comfort of your own home. Your doctor should be able to identify if you are a good candidate for a private outpatient surgery. Most of the facilities we work with offer those with much success. If you would like more information, please contact Health Vantis at toll-free 877 344 3544.

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!