While Australia has some of the world’s best doctors, clients of MLC and the Health Industry Plan (HIP) have joined to offer can access to world leading medical minds with free access to Best Doctors Inc, which has more than 50,000 leading medical specialists in 30 countries, covering 430 sub specialities.
The service is free, gratis.
No Medicare or other charges are included, apart from minor correspondence costs and the standard fees that some of MLC clients and all of Health Industry Plan (HIP) superannuation clients normally pay.
Best Doctors was founded in 1989 by doctors from the renowned Harvard University School of Medicine, and is founded on the principle that its specialists are peer nominated. Doctors cannot pay to be part of the service. It’s been in Australia since 2009 and is said to be the only service of its type available in Australia.
It offers access to a database of 50,000 leading medical specialists from around the world including the US, UK, Spain, Germany, France, Japan, Canada and Australia. With online and phone access, Best Doctors can help clients regardless of where they’re located.
Primarily, it provides clients with the facility to access the most authoritative second opinions on diagnosis and treatments, wherever they happen to be in the world.
With Best Doctors reporting US figures in the Journal of Clinical Oncology that suggest US misdiagnosis rates of up to 20 per cent and up to 44 per cent applying for some types of cancer, the popularity of such a service becomes obvious.
Darren Reynolds, a director of Best Doctors Australasia, says it will arrange leading specialist medical advice about critical illness, chronic or degenerative conditions, regardless of whether it’s a listed condition under MLC’s Critical Illness insurance.
“Best Doctors also offer help in conditions that can cause every day discomfort such as migraines, asthma, skin and orthopaedic conditions. Consultations regarding acute care (emergency room) cases, pregnancy and mental health conditions are not available through the service,” he says.
“These days, it’s virtually impossible for any doctor to
stay informed of the evolving techniques, medications
and treatments for every medical condition.
“As a result of sharing the Best Doctors’ InterConsultation report with our client’s treating doctors, leading medical specialists may provide them with valuable insights. These may be regarding complicated medical conditions, and additional information on innovative diagnostic and treatment protocols that might not be readily available,” he says.
Reynolds says Best Doctors helps thousands of families each year and has already helped over 600 MLC clients. In Australia access is provided by MLC, HIP, HCF and (shortly) the GMHBA health fund.
MLC’s Executive General Manager, Duncan West, says offering access to Best Doctors grew out of a philosophy “to give clients the best chance of returning to their pre-illness quality of life but also to build trust and to help Australians have confidence in their financial future.” He says its goes further than just paying a claim cheque.
“Whenever we introduce a new feature to our products at MLC we ask ourselves the question: how do we turn the intangible nature of insurance into a tangible outcome for our clients. All insurance, and especially life insurance, is a promise. With Best Doctors attached to an insurance policy clients not only have the financial security of cover and the ability to pay for treatments but they have access to the best medical advice in the world.
“Best Doctors is available to clients through a number of insurances from MLC including Critical Illness cover. Best Doctors is not only available to the client who holds the insurance but also to their immediate family (even if these people don’t hold an MLC insurance policy),” West says, confirming that accessing Best Doctors comes at no additional cost to the client. "We pick up the bill.”
“So far, we’ve introduced it across a broad spectrum of our insurance offerings and by February this year, 227,443 clients and their immediate family members will be able to access the benefits of Best Doctors,” he says.
West says access is confidential, with Best Doctors not sharing its findings with MLC and if a client uses the service it will not affect the assessment of a claim.
“This year saw the introduction of Best Doctors Online, a series of services clients can access around the core phone offering of the InterConsultation™ (medical advice) service.
These services include:
Best Doctors who is outside Australia, FindBestCare
will arrange everything for our client.
HIP’s Chief Executive Officer, Ross Bernays says making the service available to HIP members, and their immediate families, shows that delivering quality innovative ancillary benefits is not limited to mega funds who tout their wares on national TV.
“The service has been steadily growing in the USA and has only recently arrived to Australia under license to HIP’s insurer MLC. Now that it has finally arrived in Australia, HIP is proud to be the first industry super fund to provide the Best Doctors service to members.
“This unique service provides HIP with a leading competitive advantage to further deliver the promise of looking after our members as they move towards and through comfortable retirement,” he says.
Bernays says all insured HIP members will have access to Best Doctors and we expect that usage will grow over time and expect members with existing urgent cases to be the first to access the system.
“If only one life can be saved or indeed the quality of one life can be improved, then it will all be worthwhile. Worldwide usage
and take-up has been quite exceptional.
“Part of the reason why this opportunity is unique is because of the solid partnership between HIP and MLC, as well as the manageable size of the HIP membership.
“Personalised service has always been one of the key focuses of HIP and this is achievable because of the size of the Fund and the relationship that HIP has with its members and employers.
“The offering of this service illustrates that the delivery of innovation and quality ancillary benefits is not limited to the mega funds so often touting their wares on national TV. It is unlikely that the mega funds will be able to deliver (such) outstanding and possibly life charging benefits.
General practitioner and member of the Best Doctors’ Australian Medical Advisory Board Dr John Aloisos, AM, MBBS, FRACGP, FAICD, says the service is will be embraced by doctors and patients.
“Primarily, because it offers a medical service we don’t have at this present time. It allows us to think in a more definitive way about helping patients make very critical decisions about their care with more confidence.
“I think it is very timely. In my own work it’s often frustrating not knowing, beyond my local scene, what might be best for my patients. It was like a breath of fresh air to realise that a respected company had been working in this area at such an expert level,” he says.
“Second opinions have long been part of the landscape. The opportunity with Best Doctors is the second opinion process is extended to get an independent, validated, evidence-based opinion from clinical experts, not only within your own local area but also from overseas. The days are gone where whatever the doctor said was sacrosanct,” he says.
The services mentioned in this article is offered by a third party, not Health Industry Plan. The Trustee is not responsible for the products or services, views or actions of these organisations. The Trustee does not accept liability for any loss or damage incurred by the products or services provided by these third parties.
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