The story of how I came to Grand Rounds begins four years ago. I woke up early for a morning run and instead ended up in the emergency room, diagnosed with multiple strokes at the age of 27.
Unable to walk and facing a controversial decision over whether to undergo heart surgery, I began wading into the health care system morass. The first physician I saw assured me that I should definitely get the surgery; the second recommended, with equal confidence, that I should not. The more I researched the question on my own, the more confusing and difficult the decision became.
In this regard, my situation could not have been more commonplace. Medicine rarely yields easy answers, no matter how much we, as patients, tend to crave them. Where my situation differs from the norm is how I was able to respond to it. Unlike most patients, I was a “medical insider,” having worked for years in health care consulting. Rather than making a gut call and hoping for the best, I sought out the top experts in the country. Drawing on my industry experience, I profiled leading stroke physicians, communicated with several electronically, and ultimately flew to Boston to meet with a team of researchers focused specifically on the issue I was facing.
Choosing to forgo surgery may or may not have been the right choice (as a patient, it’s not easy to admit that). But I can at least say with confidence that my decision was made with the absolute best knowledge available.
In today’s system, that is something that too few patients can say. The medical community offers physicians with remarkable skills and expertise. What it does not provide is a standard, objective means of guiding patients to the particular physician, whether local or afar, who is best suited to the patient’s situation.
From Personal to Proactive
In joining Grand Rounds, I saw an opportunity to help lessen the divide that separates the medical insiders from the rest of the population. I wanted to help other patients choose their doctors based on the same level of information that I had access to myself.
I lead the analytics and data science team here, which is responsible for a matching algorithm that evaluates billions of clinical data points from more than 150 million patients to determine which physician is most appropriate for each patient who comes to us.
We have access to far more provider-level data than existed even five years ago, and to work with that data, we’ve built a world-class team of mathematicians and scientific researchers. Given a set of symptoms, we can tell you which physicians in your area are most likely to make the correct diagnosis and treatment recommendation, as well as which ones will provide care in a clear, accessible manner that answers the questions you, as a patient, are likely to have.
The health care landscape is changing rapidly. We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re making progress and it is really exciting to play a small part in that.