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.

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 major surgery, but 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 surgery in 2 weeks, provided you have your medical records and a fit for this type of surgery. Contact us for more details and free one-hour evaluation, toll-free 1 877 344 3544

Read our blog next Wednesday – we will present information about 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.

Free Medical Facilitation Service

Many people travel to get medical services outside of their country. An estimate of over 1 million Canadians left Canada in 2018 and received medical services someplace else. Some choose to hire a medical facilitator to help them navigate medical services in a foreign country with different laws and customs.

We at Health Vantis are such a firm. We help Canadians plan and travel for medical treatments and surgeries in the US.  However, US healthcare can be confusing and very expensive. Getting one price for surgery may prove to be nearly impossible. And even if you manage that on your own, you could be given an outrageous quote for a 20-minute outpatient surgery.

Health Vantis helps you get to a timely and safe treatment in an affordable manner. We can not do this for free. However, we believe in price transparency and honesty. Not all medical facilitation firms do their business this way. Some do not disclose what they charge their clients and bury their fee in one price. Some get paid by the facilities they refer their clients to. Such practices are illegal and unethical in the United States. In some other countries, they are not.

So what is the issue at hand you may ask? Does it matter if there is a full disclosure if I end up paying it anyway? The answer is two-fold. First comes trust. Health issues are very personal. You should be able to trust your medical facilitator. And they should be able to trust you and tell you what their services cost. This is a very delicate subject, but necessary to avoid being overcharged. Standard industry charge for medical facilitation is 10-15% of the surgery/treatment price.

Second is acting in the best interest of the client. If your facilitator gets paid by the medical facility or somehow hides it and holds a percentage out of your total payment – well, where do you think the facilitator will send you to? To the place that pays them, and not to the best suited or best qualified medical facility based on your medical issue. This is not acting in the best interest of the client.

When selecting your medical facilitator keep in mind that they are not working for free. Before committing to one, ensure that you trust them and they trust you and that they are not incentivized to act in their own interests, instead of yours.

3 Tops Reasons Why Medical Facilitator is Better Than Internet Search

What is Medical Facilitation? This question comes up in our conversation with our prospective clients, although worded differently. People ask what value we add to their internet search of a given condition or surgery. We go over our answer in the highlighted points below.

Internet Search Search Doesn’t Actually Visit All the Places, We Do!

Google search is a very powerful tool when it comes to internet search. We use it ourselves when we get an issue that is complex or requires additional investigation. With Google Earth and ability to view the surrounding area it comes as close as it can in its ability to evaluate the surrounding area. However, Health Vantis physically visits every facility we work with, inspects the inside and outside for you, meets with the doctors and administrators and asks a lot of logistical questions. We do it so that we know what to prep our clients for, so that their medical travel is less stressful. Knowing what to expect puts your mind at peace and lets you focus on getting better

Internet Search Does Not Provide Accurate Pricing, Health Vantis Does!

Although price range is sometimes given for a procedure or treatment, a lot depends on the condition of the client. Some are suited for surgery and some require additional testing. We can obtain accurate pricing for your medical treatment or procedure. Even though the US now requires hospitals to make their pricing public, finding the total price remains a challenge. Not only you will need to get the surgeon fees, but also facility, anaesthesia and whoever else may need to be involved in your procedure. You will need to know what medical billing codes are required for your procedure. An MRI is not just an MRI, there are different types for different parts of the body. Sometimes contrast is used, and a different billing code is used for that. The price will also differ based on the insurance one carries. Since Canadians carry none, the pricing you see on the internet is inaccurate.

Health Vantis identified and visited facilities that are skilled at providing a bundled price for Canadians.  And if this is something we do not offer at the time; we are willing to do all the research and leg work for you. Last thing you want to do when you feel unwell is to chase medical billing codes and pricing info from different places.

Internet Search is Just That – a Search; Health Vantis is Your Guide, Serving You from Start to End!

Many details have to be thought out and planned prior to your medical travel date. There is a lot of info out there, and it takes time to process and sift through. How many surgeries has my doctor performed? Is she Board Certified? How will I get from this appointment to the other? Do I stay in this hotel or another? When you hire Health Vantis, we ensure that no detail is overlooked. We coordinate, schedule, verify and send you reminders. You will get a pdf guide that spells out your every appointment, hospital and doctor’s credentials, addresses, payments accepted, when to make the payment, currency conversion and so on. If you need physiotherapy when you return, we will book that too!

Dangers in Medical Travel

Dangers in Medical Travel

In the past few months you might have seen an increase in articles in the media warning about the dangers of Medical Travel to Mexico or Dominican Republic /or against traveling to Mexico or Dominican Republic for medical reasons.  This includes a recent warning from the CDC not to have surgery in a specific region and hospital in Mexico and Dominican Republic.  While there is a cause for concern, the results can be different, if you select a facility based on knowing what to watch out for.   There can be dangers in Medical Travel but if you ask the right questions and verify the given information, those can be avoided.

Dangers To Avoid

  • The facility does not have a US, Canadian or JCI Accreditation 
  • You cannot verify the surgeons credentials and what they are certified to perform in, that they are up to date and what their actual training was in
  • The facility doesn’t publish their infection rate
  • There is no procedure in place if there is an emergency or something goes wrong during the operation 

But It’s Cheaper

While cost is important it should not be your deciding factor.  Many people think, it’s just breast implants or a simple hernia surgery.  They do these every day.  What could go wrong?  If the right standards are not met, A LOT!  Sometimes you get what you pay for and your health should not be compromised to save a few dollars.  

Having a safe, successful surgery should be your number 1 priority.  That can be achieved if you gather all the facts.  This can be incredibly time consuming but well worth the effort.  Hiring a Medical Facilitator that does all of this for you will ensure no detail or question is left unanswered.  It also gives you a guide through the entire process.  If you are in need of such knowledge and expertise, contact Health Vantis today!  

Health Vantis

www.healthvantis.ca

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com

Published US Pricing of Medical Costs Online

Published US Pricing of Medical Costs Online

The US recently passed a law that requires hospitals to post their pricing.  This was done so consumers could make an informed decision on where they are treated and what it would cost them.  To the public this sounds like a great idea, right?  However, this only confuses and complicates things further.  US pricing of medical costs are complicated and far from straight forward!

Up until now, you could google the cost of a procedure or service and would get a dozen different prices as answers.  That is because US health care is so complex.  There are websites out there that give you ranges of a service and what would be the high, low or fair price, however, these are often not updated or have inaccurate information.  They also don’t account for insurance rates, bundled payments or cash customers.

In English Please

With the new law, the prices listed are not required to be written in plain language.  They are only required to be ‘machine readable’ in the form of a spreadsheet.  They do not include the prices insurance companies have negotiated nor do they give a price as a whole.  You also need to understand how to read diagnosis codes to make sure you have the correct service.

More times than not, there are other charges related to the service you need to be unaware of.  For example, if you are looking to have a biopsy done, the cost is not just for the biopsy itself.  There could be a facility charge, doctor’s fee and pathology fee that will be extra.  Those often are billed separately which each item.

The only sure way to know what the price is would be to know who to call and what to ask for but even then, you still might not get an accurate price.  If you are considering coming to the US for a surgery or diagnostic test, contact a medical facilitator who is experienced in knowing how to get an accurate price.  Health Vantis knows how to get this for you so you don’t spend countless hours going in circles.

Health Vantis

www.healthvantis.ca

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com