By Lucas Schofield
Many know the feeling of waiting for what seems like a lifetime to see a medical professional. Leanna Christie and her friend Christy Evon were no strangers to dealing with issues like these, and it is what prompted them to start Health Vantis.
Health Vantis is just under a year old, and the business was created to help people find private healthcare solutions to achieve optimal health.
For those who are unwilling to wait, or have been unsuccessful in finding treatment, Health Vantis connects people with private medical facilities in Canada or the US. All of the facilities that Health Vantis works with have been visited and personally vetted by partners Leanna and Christy so they know what their clients will experience, and which facilities are best suited to each client’s needs.
Leanna and Christy are both Certified Medical Tourism Professionals, and it is their job to ensure their clients receive the best healthcare available, and that their medical journeys are positive. They do all of the research in order to provide customer-specific options, personalized travel arrangements, accommodations, and to address issues such as post-op care for the client so that they have nothing to worry about.
“Our business was born out of a genuine desire to help people find their options in healthcare,” says Leanna.
Both Leanna and her partner Christy have experienced difficulties in obtaining a timely diagnosis and healthcare.
“It is frustrating, and can make you feel powerless to get the help you deserve,” says Leanna. “That’s why this type of work motivates us, because it allows us to give people a voice in their own healthcare options.”
A typical day at Health Vantis can range from talking to potential clients about what they can offer them, or in conference calls with their partners at the facilities they work with. When they started, there was significant market research, business planning and logistics that needed to be taken care of, as well as marketing to let people know about Health Vantis as a viable alternative to lengthy wait times and uncertainty.
Leanna says it has been a rewarding but challenging experience.
“We made a choice to send our clients to the US and other Canadian provinces only, because we feel that Canadians will be most comfortable and close geographically, and will receive medical care with optimal outcomes.”
Leanna says one of the biggest challenges they face with sending clients to other provinces or across the border is being able to find star doctors and facilities that are both qualified and affordable for their clients. She says that many Canadians are wary of going to the US for healthcare due to how expensive it can be, but they have been able to present their clients with choices that are reasonably priced and similar to other medical travel destinations. They are not free like in Canada, but they are affordable, she says.
Leanna stresses that giving people a choice is what she finds most rewarding about her job, because it provides a more defined path for them, and gives them some peace of mind and some certainty about their health.
“We hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards in our work, acting in the interest of the client,” says Leanna. “That’s why we chose a transparent fee structure, so that our clients are assured that they are given the choices in medical care that suit them the best.”
Perseverance and passion are needed when working in this kind of work, especially as a new business. Leanna says that having compassion for people is also necessary. Prior experience is important, too, and her partner Christy brings that to the table, with 14 years in the insurance industry.
But some skills had to be learned, and both Leanna and Christy had to take a course in order to become certified as Medical Tourism Professionals.
“I’m influenced by my business partner because we both share a passion in getting people the health help they need, because we have both experienced having to travel to get help and to find the healthcare options we were looking for,” says Leanna.
Finding a network of business professionals has also been an asset.
“The Centre for Women in Business is becoming an integral part of how our business is able to reach out to the community, how we educate ourselves, and to make some decisions moving forward.”
Leanna says the Centre has taught her a lot about her business. “I enjoy being a member because it has given me access to many different networking events that allow me to connect with other women who are small business owners,” she says.
“This is important to me, because it gives me a level of support I would not get elsewhere.”
It’s only early days for Health Vantis, but looking to the future, Leanna and Christy are hoping it will become the premier medical travel company in Canada.
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