New Patient Advocacy Service Helps People Use the Ontario Health Care System to its Full Potential
A woman has a stroke and her adult children are faced with one of the most difficult decisions anyone should ever have to make. They want a second opinion before deciding whether or not to remove her from life support. They call Medical Confidence, a new startup company designed to help Canadians become informed and more active participants in their health decisions. Within 48 hours, the company arranges for two cardiologists and a neurologist to review the mother’s medical records, and a report is delivered.
“In this case, our role was to provide the family peace-of-mind by facilitating the process of getting second opinions, which includes securing all the medical records and test results, so the family could just focus on being with their mother,” said Angela Johnson who founded Medical Confidence with her husband after they each went through their own experience trying to navigate the medical system. “Our team also explains the medical terminology and situation, helping people better understand what is happening so they are confident with what they need in order to move forward. Doctors today would love to provide this type of extensive care, but the system is not set up for that.”
Medical Confidence does not make health decisions. It provides people, without the need for travel, access to a resounding level of clinical knowledge from leading experts who review their medical case. Equipped with insight and understanding of their options, individuals can have more confidence in their doctor, diagnosis and treatment plan so they can focus on recovery.
The company’s Ontario network of over 1,000 doctors covers more than 350 subspecialties, a network that took more than three years to build, vetting each physician by a long set of criteria to determine excellence from education and experience to patient reviews. Doctors cannot pay to be part of this list and access to the database, including full biographies and contact information, is available to the public and physicians for $29.95 and $9.95 per month respectively.
Additionally, the company offers two critical services needed to maximize the potential of the Ontario medical system. Studies have shown there is significant frustration by family practitioners and specialists in the current referral system largely stemming from poor communication and lack of information sharing.The Patient Advocate service supplies a registered nurse who will work with individuals to match them with the most appropriate physician from the company’s Top Doctor network. The service also includes scheduling the earliest possible appointment and preparation for the meeting.
“A typical doctor visit is only about 15 minutes,” said Johnson. “People should be as prepared for a medical appointment as they would be for a job interview. This includes understanding how to accurately and efficiently communicate medical history, showing up with all the necessary tests completed, and so on. This way, the limited time with the specialist is about diagnosis and next steps. This is what it means to truly be an advocate for your own health and our service makes these best practices accessible to the public.”
The Medical Detective service is for people suffering from an undiagnosed, complex or chronic illness, or questioning their diagnosis. This provides a hand selected medical detective team consisting of a member of the Patient Advocate service and a panel of doctors including related specialists from the Top Doctor network. The medical team deconstructs the patient’s medical case, performs a comprehensive assessment including reviewing the diagnosis and treatment plan, making recommendations, and providing answers to the individual’s medical questions. The service is confidential and structured to complement and supplement the care of the patient’s current doctor.
Medical Confidence launched in June 2013 and serves the Ontario market. The company plans to extend its services in the coming months to other provinces across the country.
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