See the original story in Japanese.
When trying to find a good, new doctor, many of you may ask your friends or coworkers for recommendations. Because if you try to find them using Google or other search engines, links to curated sites introducing hospitals usually come out in an upper level of results, which typically provides unreliable information. Information sources regarding doctors and hospitals are overwhelmingly few, so it’s quite different from the way of finding good restaurants online.
“Clintal” database site
Clintal is a site to browse for “renowned doctors” in order to find the optimally skilled medical practitioners, which was launched in May of 2015. As of the end of October, 2015 information on over 500 skilled doctors covering 56 disease categories could be retrieved – this was followed by the addition this November of a doctor’s suggested visits referral service to the browser service.
The target patients of Clintal are those suffering from “diseases that are appreciably altered by the quality of medicine,” namely those requiring surgery or those whose treatment options are limited due to the small number of specialist practitioners available. In contrast, diseases not dependent upon the quality of medicine are those having clear guidelines as to treatment like for hypertension and diabetes. For these the treatment quality can be sustained, as long as experts are involved, since there are strong guidelines in place. To reiterate, Clintal specializes in offering info as to diseases whose level of quality of medicine depends upon the skills of the practitioner.
The selection of “skillful practitioner” is a three-step process: first, screening upon looking at achievements based on third-party “assessors” like having specialist qualifications or not and the position within the relevant medical society; then, canvassing several specialists from within the same treatment sector in order to fathom the recognition and reputation among peers… such canvassing from the specialist perspectives will for example flush out doctors who are no longer fully practicing or are focused on publishing general research papers rather than treating patients for removal from the pool.
Concludes Dr. Reimu Sugita, Clintal’s CEO,
The final step of quantitative screening by meticulous scrutiny on the number of operations handled as well as that on clinically-based papers published is implemented on the remainder of those listed. By combining qualitative and objective data both we can find the skilled practitioners to be recommended.
Database reliability and recommendation speed
Clintal’s competition are provided by those services providing second opinions. The major difference between Clintal and such service providers is speed. Rival firms often take at least 2 months and in some cases up to 4 months in proffering a recommendation.
Though it depends on the disease, there are many patients who can’t afford to wait for 4 months, like those suffering from cancer. At Clintal we aim to recommend appropriate doctors within a week’s time. We will inform which doctor should be sought out and the reasons for this too.
Another feature is that the information on skilled practitioners are open. Conventional services keep the doctors’ assessment in a black box, not clarifying why these specific doctors are recommended. Clintal makes public its selection methods and if requested offer access to its browser site where other doctors who can treat the same disease may be located.
Upon selection it is said that the patient condition and physical distance from the hospital are considered as well. It might be possible to travel far away for surgical operations by a skilled surgeon but visiting a distant location once a week for post-op observations might not be practical.
Moreover the recommendation will be tailored in view of the need for wheelchair or family assistance among other things to enable the doctors to understand patient conditions upon selecting the skilled practitioner for recommendation.
Business establishment based upon years of doubt and parents’ illnesses
Clintal CEO Sugita has worked as an opthalmologist and after becoming a hospital physician thought of ways to improve hospitals and healthcare industry issues. Then he obtained an MBA from Duke University’s business school (North Carolina) and upon return to Japan joined the Boston Consulting Group and became a hospital management consultant.
He worked at regional hospitals to decisively improve their treatment units upon providing managerial advice to hospitals. For this, renowned doctors and skilled practitioners had to be brought in, which was only possible if there are enough patients in the field. In order to have such patients visit a specific hospital there was a need to highlight the quality of medical practice and the doctors involved. He thus places his attention on the second opinion services that were growing in the US and other markets.
While I was considering issues in the medical sector, my parents came down respectively with retinal detachment and shingles respectively, so I had to start looking for their hospitals; it was a formidable task even for a doctor. Then I realized that for ordinary patients it must be even more formidable. Soon others around me also were asking me on behalf of their relatives about finding skillful medical practitioners, and I decided Clintal would provide one of the solutions to such problems.
Early treatment by an appropriate medical practitioner will as a result not only reduce treatment time but also lower the costs involved. For patients bent on finding the right doctor, they are now even looking to work together with health and life insurance outfits on assumption that more people can make use of Clintal. Over the next year they plan to expand the skilled practitioners’ list which is centered now on the Japanese capital’s region to the nationwide level.
Translated by “Tex” Pomeroy
Edited by Masaru Ikeda