“Everything is about finding the right expert” How to get timely and correct diagnosis / treatment?
How NOT to spend 2 years and $150,000 in search of the right diagnosis and treatment? Top heart and lung disease expert explains:
If somebody’s experienced certain symptoms, and had been told, “Oh, you have this or you have that” – it may be worthwhile to really try to investigate and try to find the right expert who really will dig into the real causes, which is not easy to do, but nevertheless is worthwhile for patients. – We went back and looked at our patient population and we probably see 200 to 300 new patients every year with unexplained shortness of breath. And we’re following well over a 1,000 patients at this point. And what we learned was that the average time to diagnosis for the patients we’ve seen – and really it means to the time to where they were referred to our center is about two years. So these patients have been complaining of shortness of breath for at least two years, and over that two years many times people have spent upwards of a 100,000 to 150,000 US dollars on diagnostic testing, repeating tests over and over again, because physicians want to do something, and if they can’t treat something, they’re often going to order a diagnostic test. And even though that test has been done [before], it hasn’t shown an answer, it’s what the physicians are comfortable with. And so a lot of money is spent and a lot of time is wasted in getting these patients a diagnosis. Where they could have used the modern technology, even remote expert opinion, or if they send the information and try to find the right expert – it could have saved both time and money, and, certainly, getting the right diagnosis and appropriate treatment at the right time… – Right, now that’s the key. I think for us, by the time a patient hits our door, we can usually give that patient a diagnosis. Only because the scheduling issues we are booked out months now – but within six weeks we can usually give that patient a diagnosis, and for every diagnosis we find, we do have a treatment protocol that is evolving as time goes on. We’ve learned a lot about these diagnoses and we are really thinking about treatment, again, on a physiologic basis, so it allows us to be flexible and tailor therapy to that patient. – It pays to get to the right experts! – Everything is about finding the right person.