By Dr. Eddie Chaloner - Consultant Vascular Surgeon
I was concerned, but not surprised to read in the Daily Telegraph of the broadcaster Kirsty Young’s travails with fibromyalgia. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/05/29/kirsty-young-painful-illness-left-struggling-everyday-chores/
Non - medical readers may be puzzled as to why Ms Young had such a difficult time. It is true that fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose – the symptoms often overlap with those of other disorders and there is no specific test for the condition. On the other hand, it is a well – recognised, common ailment that affects thousands of patients - so why was it so hard for Ms Youngs to get to the right doctor?
Readers may be surprised to find that navigating one’s way to the correct medical specialist is a challenging matter in the 21st century. There are several reasons for this. In the last two decades, medical practice has become super specialised, to the extent that individual surgeons and physicians frequently have very deep knowledge and experience of their specialist condition, but a very narrow scope of practice. Simply put, if the patient is inadvertently referred to the wrong super specialist, it can take considerable time and investigation for the underlying diagnosis to be discovered.
For a GP, referring a patient to the right specialist can be considerably more challenging than it might appear. It’s unrealistic to expect General Practitioners to keep up with bewildering sub specialisms and super-specialisms, many of which may not have existed when the GP was a medical student!
In addition, for some time now in both the NHS and Private sectors, GP’s have been encouraged to make generic referrals – in other words, rather than referring to a named specialist doctor, the GP refers to a hospital department and the patient is allocated to a doctor by a ‘referral management centre’. This may appear efficient in theory, but in practice often leads to patients ending up in front of the wrong specialist for their complaint.
Medical insurance companies offer patients their choice of specialist via online directories. Again, on the face of it, this seems to empower the patient, but, in practice, given the granular complexity of supra specialisation, its very difficult for the patient to select the right doctor without guidance – simply put, there is more information available than ever, but for the layperson, that information is virtually impossible to interpret.
It's a curious paradox that in the information age, with a plethora of medical apps available on smartphones, it is easier and more convenient to access medical care, but harder than ever to end up in the hands of the right doctor for one’s specific illness!
We created Dr Loxley to solve this precise problem. Without insider knowledge of how to navigate the healthcare journey to the right doctor and the correct diagnosis, patients frequently end up being passed from one specialist to another, undergoing a series of unnecessary tests and consultations.
Getting to the right specialist first time has been proven to save time, money and stress for all concerned.
Published by By Dr. Eddie Chaloner, Consultant Vascular SurgeonMA(Oxon) BM BCh FRCS(Edin) FRCS (Gen)About Dr Loxley @drloxleycare www.drloxley.com Dr Loxley is a healthcare navigation service, connecting patients to the best doctors and treatment options, supporting efficient, timely personal health decisions. We combine person clinical overview with the Loxley HealthBot, powered by patient records gathered by the team, to make every health decision more accurate and cost effective. A global network of the very best doctors and the leading digital health tools our aim to get patients in front of the right doctor, first time.