Sunday, April 09, 2006

Second Opinions Around the World

Second Opinions Around the World: "The medical community’s attitude about seeking second medical opinions has always been straightforward encouragement, and it is all the more so now in the current consumer-driven environment. The Clinic has been performing diagnosis re-appraisals since its inception more than 80 years ago.But the Internet’s reach, coupled with the Clinic’s ever-increasing global reputation, has broadened the possibilities tremendously, leading to creation of the MyConsult remote second opinion service. To handle these mounting requests for second opinions, the Clinic’s medical staff, in conjunction with the e-Cleveland Clinic nursing staff in its Clinical Operations Center, has developed protocols laying out the kinds of information doctors will need in order to perform a quality second opinion.
This material, including X-rays, CT scans, MRIs and other imaging studies, is then assembled into a comprehensive patient file that physicians can more efficiently fit into their regular workflow. And what does the patient receive? “They get a copy of the consult report, and 48 hours later they get a call from the Clinic staff, asking if they have any questions,” Dr. Schaffer explains.
Requests for second opinions now flow through the Internet into the Clinic from almost every state in the United States and nearly three-dozen foreign countries thus far. The list reads like a roster of the United Nations - Bahrain, South Korea, Russia and Argentina among them.
The number of electronically-requested second opinions performed at the Clinic increased by 400 percent from 2002 to 2003, and took another 57 percent leap in 2004.
As Dr. Schaffer reads from a number of warmly appreciative patient letters, some handwritten, sent in the wake of these second opinions, one is struck by how none of the correspondents even make mention of the fact that these consults all happened, not in person, but electronically. That doesn’t surprise the physicians, who have always operated on the notion that the consult is real even if the visit is virtual. “If you do it properly, people don’t distinguish between the delivery methods of care,” says Dr. Miller.
Even insurers appear happy with the result. 'After all,' says Dr. Schaffer, “the right care at the right time is going to be more cost-effective for our patients.” "
Virtual Visit, Real Care. When Mohamed cannot go to the mountain, the mountain comes to Mohamed !

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