ConsumerMedical, a company whose mission is to provide critical needs patients with a medical ally, offers hope to breast cancer patients and others who need the best possible medical care. It teams up with patients to help guide them through a process that can often feel overwhelming.
“Cancer — and other serious illnesses — can tear families apart,” CEO David Hines explains. “The condition itself is only one aspect of what people have to deal with. The wear and tear that comes with these life-threatening diseases is just exhausting, and my hope is that ConsumerMedical can alleviate part of that experience.”
Matching Patients with Expert Allies
The service matches each client with three experts: a physician, a researcher, and a nurse. These resources, who interact on a one-on-one basis with the patient, become advocates that help them and their families know what questions to ask and how to get through complex information that comes with a life-altering diagnosis like breast cancer.
ConsumerMedical doesn’t replace a patient’s doctor or hospital, but their teams guide clients through a process, which by its nature, is complicated. Once patients get assigned to a team, that stays with the patient for as long as necessary.
For example, if a client is diagnosed with breast cancer, ConsumerMedical would pair that individual with a leading oncologist from either Harvard or Duke. In addition to the expert physician, the patient would also be paired with a researcher, a specialist who focuses on researching best practices, statistical outcomes, and evidence-based treatment options.
“Studies show that in the U.S., doctors often aren’t aware of best evidence procedures,” David Hines says. “Plus, it generally takes three years before a doctor even learns about them and seven more years before they start to use them.”
The research team member makes sure ConsumerMedical’s clients don’t slip through these cracks. “If we can help one person avoid an unnecessary procedure,” David went on, “it saves employers and payers a lot of money and it saves the patient, and their families, a lot of angst.”
The other critical person on the patient’s team includes a nurse. Besides offering important help about front-line medical issues the patient will likely face during their illness, the team nurse can help families access resources they might not know about.
Team members work together to ensure that patients understand their diagnosis and how best to proceed. They communicate directly with that patient and help sort through confusing or conflicting information.
Variables that Impact Recovery
According to David Hines, ConsumerMedical has identified five key variables that can have the greatest impact on patient outcomes: making sure the diagnosis is correct by getting an expert second opinion; figuring out who the top specialists are within the patient’s healthcare network; employing evidence-based treatments; deciding which hospital within a particular network has the best outcomes; and helping patients and their families cope with the whole experience.
Currently, ConsumerMedical is available as an employee benefit at more than 50 major corporations covering 1.7 million Americans.
David Hines founded the company more than 20 years ago after his young sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. “After my sister’s cancer diagnosis, I decided to change the trajectory of my whole career,” he said. “She did not receive the best care and unfortunately there are many other people every day who do not, as well. It’s important to educate patients fully about their options and help them make the best decisions possible. After all, they have the most to win or lose.”
He wants to help other individuals and families avoid some of the stress involved in these situations and guide them through the health care maze to a better outcome. “Our mission is to help patients get the best possible care.”
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