Online Medical Second Opinions
Definition of Online Medical Second Opinions
A medical second opinion is defined as a review of diagnosis or treatment modalities demanded by the patient from a healthcare provider, other than his primary physician or institution.
An online medical second opinion is the process of visiting the internet for seeking second opinions on particular medical conditions and issues. For seeking an online medical second opinion, you might have to subscribe to the website at a cost, or register and avail the service without any fee.
An online medical second opinion overcomes the geographic barriers, providing the patients with expert knowledge from the privacy and comfort of their homes.
In fact, due to the increased awareness, today physicians and patients are together seeking second opinions for making informed healthcare choices.
When to seek an online second opinion
With the massive spurt in healthcare opportunities, medical knowledge and new treatments, it has become impossible for any one physician or institution to be fully aware of the all the latest information.
Here we list a few prominent situations when an online second opinion is generally recommended:
- Having major surgery
- Questioning whether surgery is the only option
- Unsatisfied over the current doctor’s diagnosis
- Not seeing improvement in your medical condition
- Diagnosed with a life threatening disease such as cancer, heart disease or brain tumor
- Recommended for a second surgery
- Having multiple medical problems
Online second opinions are also helpful for patients who rely on a local community hospital, but want reassurance of a larger medical center where doctors have more experience of handling complex cases.
Points to remember about Online Medical Second Opinions
It is a mandatory right of a patient to seek a second opinion. However, to ensure that you meet the purpose of seeking an online medical second opinion, you must remember the below:
- Ensure the authenticity of the website and the service provider
- Never given out your personal details in online discussion or forum
- Try to seek help from a website that is attached to a hospital or a healthcare centre
- Prepare a list of questions or queries you want to ask, before you start the process
Statistical Evidence about Online Medical Second Opinions
A series of studies throw ample light on the value and consequences of online medical second opinions.
As per a study by the researchers at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, one out of every 71 cases of cancer patients were misdiagnosed, calling for the need of authentic second opinion.
Dr. Kvedar (1999), when quoting one of his studies, states that almost 30 percent of the time, the online opinion of the second doctor or physician differs from the first one. In such cases, patients are often advised to visit the associated the medical center for an exam.
The Future of Online Medical Second Opinions
In the present, online service providers primarily use e-mail to transmit patients’ information. Research is being conducted to find ways to improve technical capabilities to enable them to send and receive information better.
Plenty of modern methods are being adopted by such service providers, ranging from video-conferencing to the real-time diagnostic technology.