Private Stapedectomy/Stapedotomy

Hearing loss affects 40% of Canadian adults aged 20 to 79, and 8% of children aged 6 to 19. There are a few reasons this can occur. One of them is otosclerosis. The condition is diagnosed by an otolaryngologist using hearing tests and physical examination.

In many cases, surgery is an option for the treatment of otosclerosis. The name of the surgery performed is stapedectomy or stapedotomy. Currently, stapedotomy is the treatment of choice for otosclerosis with stapes fixation. It is both simpler and safer than stapedectomy.

Health Vantis works with facilities that can do this surgery in a private manner. The wait list to see a surgeon in Canada for this procedure can take up to a year. If you or your loved one are losing hearing and need to access medical treatment faster than the current system allows, give us a call. Toll -free 1 877 344 3544.

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!

Newsletter, May 2019

My Medical Travel Story- Iron Infusions in the UK

People travel to get medical treatments for different reasons. We all have our stories and I wanted to share mine with you. I have been iron deficient and anemic for the past two years. Last June I was prescribed iron infusions locally. Over the course of 5 weeks the infusions were done at a local hospital and the cost was fully covered by Nova Scotia MSI. It felt great, I got my energy back and had a fantastic summer.

At the end of September, the symptoms of changing iron levels started slowly creeping back in. Due to heavy monthly bleeding, I was becoming iron deficient again. I was taking oral iron daily and my diet included red meat and spinach. Despite that, my ferritin levels kept going down. I was still bleeding heavily – something my GYN and I have been working on for the past 6 months. Being on warfarin was aggravating the blood loss.

I thought I would bring it up at the appointment with my doctor to see what the suggestion might be. It was to exercise more. My blood work didn’t indicate any anemia or deficiency. It did, however, indicate that the ferritin levels were declining. The suggestion to exercise left me feeling frustrated. I knew that exercise was not the answer. I work out at least 3 times a week, eat healthy, and my BMI is normal.

Fast forward the crazy busy holiday season and the dead of winter. My symptoms worsened over. Fatigue was now in charge of my life. I woke up tired.  All day was I waiting to go to bed only to lay there restlessly and unable to sleep well.

The reality of fatigue is debilitating. The solution for me was seemingly easy – get an iron infusion and that would get my energy back.

However, this solution is very hard to obtain. The blood work has to show anemia. I was just a couple of points above, ferritin at 22. The level to get an iron infusion is below ferritin 15. At these depleted levels, one would get a referral to an appointment with a speciality doctor, an internist (about 3 months wait here in NS). Then you would be referred to the day clinic for an infusion (can take about 2-3 weeks).

In the month of Feb, I realized that it is only going to get worse, and until I hit that ferritin bottom no one can do anything here in Nova Scotia for me. I will not get to the province funded infusions till June-July, considering wait times. This realization left me feeling anxious and scared.

I found supporting evidence that iron deficiency fatigue can be successfully treated in those unable to benefit from oral iron with an iron infusion. In one of the health blogs, I came across a YouTube video about an iron clinic in London, UK. I immediately reached out to Dr. Toby Richards, and got an answer by email in about an hour. My blood work does show a deficiency. They can help with an infusion and are able to accommodate the appointment pretty fast.  I would only need one appointment and an infusion due to the newer IV iron solution.

Yes, there was a cost. And I would have to get to London, which is another cost. So I pondered and shared this information with my friends. Oh, if only I lived in the UK!

One of my friends works for WestJet. Upon hearing my monologue about being tired, and inability to get treatment locally she said: “I am working the London route on Sunday and will have a 48h layover there. Why don’t you come with me?” The reasons were many – my mother in-law just had surgery and was in recovery in the hospital, I had to leave my business for 3 days, I had commitments at my son’s school, and his after school activities and a dentist appointment and so on…It would be hard to leave all this and go get better. But how can I take care of people around me, if I can not take care of myself?

The decision was made. An email to Dr. Richards secured an appointment in two days. I was on my way to get better. I felt nervous. The infusion was using Monofer, not the same as I had here in Canada, Venofer. Even though Dr. Richards assured me it is a safer one, and it allows just one infusion, I was still nervous. What if something happens?

I arrived at the Iron clinic office and was greeted by three smiling women, two doctors and one nurse. They were happy to answer many questions I had about iron and iron infusions. Dr. Abeysiri spoke with passion about the role of iron in a human body and the research that she has been doing on it. The office was sunny and the atmosphere was friendly. My blood pressure was monitored throughout the process. It was uneventful and I was done in about 1 hour.

Back home and now over a month after the infusion, my energy levels are up, I sleep well, and no longer experience the extreme fatigue. The quality of my life is significantly improved. I am very thankful for my dear friend and for the amazing team of health professionals at the Iron Clinic who made this happen.

 

May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month

During May, the Canadian Brain Tumor Foundation is reaching out to all Canadians to raise awareness about brain tumors. About 55,000 Canadians are living with a brain tumor, and every day there are 27 new brain tumor diagnoses. Depending on the type of tumor treatment plans differ. Today we wanted to highlight one of the treatment options – Gamma Knife Radiosurgery.

What Is Gamma Knife?

Gamma Knife Radiosurgery actually involves no knives or cutting. It is radiosurgery that uses specialized equipment to focus about 200 small beams of radiation on a tumor. Each beam uses weak radiation that passes harmlessly through normal tissue. They meet in the tumor spot, delivering a powerful radiation dose that affects the tumor cells. The radiation is targeted using MRI imaging, CT scans, and angiography to determine the extent of the tumor. Then a computer program maps the structure, which tells the surgeon exactly where to apply the radiation.

Why Is Gamma Knife Used?

No cutting means less invasive surgery. Sometimes a tumor in the brain is too hard to reach using standard surgery or a person is not healthy enough to undergo a standard neurosurgery. Gamma Knife radiosurgery is generally less risky than traditional neurosurgery. There are fewer complications associated with anesthesia, bleeding and infection. In addition, it may have a lower risk of side effects compared with other types of radiation surgery.

The surgery is usually an outpatient procedure and does not require stay in the hospital. Most people return to their daily activities within 1-2 days.

What Conditions Are Treated with Gamma Knife Radiosurgery?

A number of conditions can be treated with this surgery, not just brain tumors.

  • Acoustic neuromas
  • Blood vessel problems i.e. arteriovenous malformations
  • Brain tumors
  • Epilepsy
  • Nerve problems i.e. trigeminal neuralgia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Pituitary tumors

Gamma Knife Radiosurgery is available at a few Canadian hospitals. If you have been diagnosed with a brain tumor, ask your doctor if you may be a good candidate for Gamma Knife treatment instead of traditional neurosurgery.

Happy Mother’s Day!

This, and any year, please remember to ensure you are current on preventative care for women. Below are some guidelines for generally healthy women. If you have a family history of any disease please ask your doctor about preventative screening based on your family history.

If you are 64 years or younger and are otherwise healthy:

  • Mammogram (age 50-74) every 2-3 years
  • Colorectal cancer screening age 50 -75 (fecal blood sample, sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy) every 1-2 years
  • PAP Smear test (cervical cancer screening) every 3 years
  • Cholesterol testing every 1-5 years women over 40 years old
  • Diabetes screening
  • Bone density test

How Long Does a Joint Replacement Last?

Those suffering from arthritis in their joints are probably aware that a hip or knee replacement will relieve the pain for good. However, going through a total joint replacement surgery is undertaking a serious, albeit considered very successful surgery. If all non-surgical methods fail, your doctor will recommend a total hip or knee replacement.

One of the questions for your doctor should be “How long will my hip or knee last?”. It is an important factor to consider. Younger people are advised to wait to avoid future revisions. A standard answer to the longevity of the joint replacement has been 10-15 years.

A new study for hips and knees that came out in February 2019, tells us that joint replacements last longer. The study looked at almost 300,000 total knee replacements and over 200,000 total hip replacements. 58% of total hip replacement lasted 25 years. Total knee replacements had even longer longevity – 82% lasted 25 years.

Those numbers are encouraging for the ageing population of North America. It is worth to note, however, that the study collected data from joint replacement surgeries performed in New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. The results can differ for Canada.

It is ultimately your decision if you prefer to wait or get it done sooner. If you are put on a waitlist for a joint replacement and no longer can deal with waiting, Health Vantis can help access private hip or knee replacements. Give us a call to find out the details. Toll Free 1 877 344 3544

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Many people ask what exactly is minimally invasive spine surgery?  In just a few words, it is minimal cutting to avoid significant damages to the muscles surrounding the spine.  The benefit to this is that it presents less risk for blood loss, a quicker recovery, less post-operative pain, less soft tissue damage and less chance for surgical complications.  Most doctors prefer doing minimally invasive spine surgery if their patients are a candidate for it.

In recent years, there has been advancement in MRI imaging that allows surgeons to see spinal nerves, small disc fragments and bone spurs.  It gives them the ability to spread and push muscle out of the way as opposed to cutting through it and allows them to get to the exact place they need to.  

There are several different techniques surgeons utilize when doing a minimally invasive spine surgery.  Some of them have become so precise that only a 1” incision is necessary.  Common procedures such as fusions and decompression can be done in this manner, however, not all patients are candidates for this.  

Just like all patients are not candidates for minimally invasive surgery, not all surgeons are trained to do the techniques.  It takes special training and skill and the right technology and tools to do these kinds of surgeries. 

If you have been advised to have spinal surgery and minimally invasive techniques have not been discussed, contact us for a second opinion.  We have several facilities that can offer this kind of surgery and are happy to review your records.  

Health Vantis

www.healthvantis.ca

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com

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

April Newsletter

 

The long and sometimes unbearable winters in Canada prompt many Canadians to head south for the winter.  Many own homes or property down south and like to spend as much time as possible shedding their winter boots in exchange for flip flops.  If they spend approximately 6 months in the US, they are often times labeled a Snowbird.  One important thing all Snowbirds need to keep in mind is how many days they intend on staying in the US?.  

Canadians become confused about how long they can stay in the US.  It is often thought that you can stay 6 months or 180 days.   Per Gerry Scott, a Portfolio Manager and Branch Manager with Raymond James Ltd., this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Gerry has spent over 23 years in the wealth management industry.  During that time, he has met thousands of Canadians that either spend 6 months in the US, otherwise known as Snowbirds, or living in the US full-time.  In his experience, most Snowbirds tend to avoid or not have a clear understanding of the US immigration and IRS tax rules that have changed in recent years.  

What Canadian snowbirds don’t realize is that they can be classified as a US resident and subject to IRS taxes if they stay too long.  This is not tracked on an annual basis, but over a 3 year period and thus can be very confusing.  

Gerry also noticed that questions about estate taxes, home ownership, travel insurance or private health care often came up in his conversations..  That is when he decided to create an app that could point his customers in the right direction to answer their questions.

The first version came out in the fall of 2015 and is called ‘Canadian Snowbirds US Stay Counter’.  The app provided connection to US Real Estate, Tax & Legal Services, Medical Tourism and more.  The thought was to have his current Snowbird customer base try it out and assist them with their US stay and answer other questions they might have.  The app quickly became popular bringing in close to 50,000 subscribers.  

Fast forward to present day….Gerry has developed a new and improved app re-named ‘Snowbirds US Day Tracker’ with even more to offer people who frequent the US.  The app came out last month and will have all of the useful information the previous app did and more.  There will also be a website where you can get up to date information on the app. 

One other helpful tool it provides is getting the most out of your CAD currency exchange.  Some banks will charge you fees as high as 3.1% on your conversion.  Gerry has long term relationships with a Foreign National service that can offer the the best CAD to USD exchange rate for as little as 0.25% in banking fees by utilizing the app.  That is a lot of money saved in the long run, especially if you are exchanging large sums.  

Be sure to download this free app in Google Play and the App Store. 

For more information or financial assistance, Gerry can be reached at 604-936-7529 or gerry.scott@snowbirdsapp.ca.  

If you are a Snowbird and are on a medical  wait list in Canada, we can also assist with arranging your procedure, diagnostic test or surgery in a private manner while you are in the US.  Contact Health Vantis for more details on this at info@healthvantis.com or 877-344-3544.

 

 

Water is the most important nutrient human body needs?, water is the most important nutrient our bodies need.   Approximately 60% of our body is made up of water, however,  we constantly lose it through sweat, urine and even breathing.  Humans can go weeks without food but can only survive 3-5 days without water.  Experts say you should have 8-8oz glasses of water a day to appropriately replenish what your body loses.

Many people don’t like to drink water or get bored of it because there is essentially no taste.  One way to change that is to flavor your water with fresh fruit.  Not only does it provide more benefits, the concoctions are endless so you never get bored!

Listed below are some items you can infuse your water with and the benefits you get from them:

Lemons – Support normal digestion, kidney and liver function and they are high in Vitamin C.  It is also a natural fat burner.

Citrus (ie. grapefruit or oranges) – Antioxidants and Vitamin C. It helps rid of toxins and waste from your cells.  Oranges have also been proven to reduce the risk of stroke.

Blueberries & Raspberries – Antioxidants and fiber which can help curb appetite.

Cucumbers – Several vitamins, components that fight inflammation, protect brain health and even freshen breath. *Tip – Keep the skins on as that is where most of the vitamins come from!

Mangos – Can boost metabolism, aid in digestion and increase memory and libido.

Cranberry Juice (no sugar added and in small amounts) – It is loaded with antioxidants that help flush toxins from your kidneys and intestines.

Apples – May reduce the risk of developing hypertension, diabetes and heart disease and provide iron to your diet.

Kiwi – Contains a cleansing enzyme called actinidin which can give your skin a healthy, natural glow.

Pears – They absorb glucose, which can give you more energy.

Including fresh herbs such as mint, thyme or lavender can also give a very nice finishing touch to your creation!

*Tip – Most fruit is not as tasty after being in water for hours.  Instead of tossing it, include it into a smoothie along with some fresh fruit and voila’!

 

 

World Health Day is celebrated on April 7th.   Each year the celebration highlights a specific theme that is a priority or area of concern for the World Health Organization (WHO).  This year’s (2019) focus is on Universal Health Care (UHC).  It is about the world coming together to ensure all people and communities have access to quality health care when they need it, without suffering financial hardship.  The collaboration to improve UHC is to include a full spectrum from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care.

The goal the campaign is to achieve a better understanding of what Universal Health Care means in terms of 

services and support that should be available.  The campaign also gives an opportunity for Ministers of Health and other governmental decisions makers a chance to showcase what progress they have made in the past years as well as address the gaps they have in their respective countries.  This would encompass all areas of Universal healthcare?  quality, efficiency, equity, accountability, sustainability and resilience.  

Take the time to talk to your Ministry of Health or elected officials this year about your concerns in the gaps the Canadian healthcare system presents.  Hearing from the people is where discussions start and change can happen.

Conformis Knee Replacement

Conformis Knee Replacement

There are many ways to do a knee replacement. One of them is to have a custom knee replacement. While there are a couple of ways to have a custom knee replacement, Conformis is the only custom implant used.

Traditional Knee Implant

In a traditional knee implant, the implant designs are based on a set of pre-determined measurements. The doctor will determine which one is the closest fit for each patient. The flaw that can occur is that there are 2 joints in each knee and they can be different heights, which can result in an imperfect fit. It can also create more cutting of the bone depending on the surgeons technical abilities.

Custom Knee Replacement

There are other types of knee replacements that are ‘custom’. This does not mean that the implant is custom made to your knee. With this type of custom replacement, a MRI is done prior to the surgery to map the anatomy of the knee out. Specific cutting guides are designed to give the surgeon a more precise pattern to follow. It provides a guide for bone cuts around the knee which would be specific to the knee anatomy. This helps preserve as much of the natural knee as possible.

Conformis Knee Implant

A Conformis knee replacement is a custom implant specific to the patients anatomy. A 3D image of the patients knee will be done prior to the surgery through CT Scan. The image is used to design an implant that will fit their anatomy as well as design cutting guides for the surgeon to follow as in a custom knee replacement. It prevents the surgeon from removing bone and can correct alignment issues more reliably within the knee. Another bonus is that the implant itself is thinner in size, which allows for less healthy tissue and bone removal. The less bone removed, the less trauma the knee endures and less soft tissue disruption.

The surgery itself is much quicker.  You don’t have to try and fit the implants with off the shelf options or utilize stabilizing rods. It provides a more natural fit, less pain, swelling and faster recovery time. There will be less difficulties within the knee down the road and longer life of the implant.

Our facilities are equipped to do all 3 forms of knee replacement. If you are on the wait list and want to explore your options, please contact us and we’d be happy to help!

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

Private EMG Test

EMG (Electromyography) is a diagnostic test. It is used to assess the condition of muscles and the nerve cells that control them.  It can help diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome, pinched nerve, herniated disc disease, sciatica, muscle dystrophy and Lou Gehrig disease.

If you are experiencing symptoms that may indicate a muscle or nerve disorder, your doctor may refer you for an EMG. This test is usually done along with NCV (Nerve Conduction Velocity) test. NCV detects a problem with the nerve, and an EMG detects whether the muscle is working properly in response to the nerve stimulus. The results of the test can help your doctor better determine presence, location and extent of diseases that damage the nerves and the muscles.

The wait times for EMG differ from province to province in Canada. It will also depend on the severity of the pain you are experiencing. In Nova Scotia, our clients report that it can take up to 2 years, and in Alberta 2-6 months. The test can be arranged privately with minimal waiting.  If you would like to explore your options about getting a private EMG, please give us a call toll-free at 1 877 344 3544 or email us at info@healthvantis.com