Cancer. Dementia. Multiple Sclerosis.
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Patients faced with life-altering diagnoses like these and other serious conditions often seek out a second opinion. But, for a variety of reasons, second opinions can sometimes be difficult to obtain.
The Cleveland Clinic has stepped up to help these patients— and is changing the entire second-opinion paradigm in the process— through its virtual second opinion offering.
A joint venture formed in 2019 by Cleveland Clinic and Amwell, The Clinic offers patients around the world virtual, online access to the institution’s 3,500 world-class specialists and sub-specialists for second opinions on diagnoses, treatment plans and other aspects of care in more than 550 subspecialties, including cardiology, musculoskeletal, oncology, neurology and more.
The Clinic’s value proposition is straightforward: Direct access to a second opinion by a Cleveland Clinic expert physician for peace of mind when making complex medical decisions – even in the comfort of your living room.
Any patient can simply register for an online account and select a nurse care manager, or navigator. This nurse navigator personally assists the patient through the second opinion process. This includes the often-complex task of collecting medical records—lab test results, imaging, tissues samples and any other data–from the patient’s provider(s). With the assistance of the nurse navigator, this often weeks-long process can be taken off the patient’s to-do list completely and can be streamlined to take as little as 5 days.
Based on this data, the patient is assigned an appropriate Cleveland Clinic specialist or sub-specialist to review their case. The patient then has the opportunity to select a secure, HIPAA-compliant video- or telephone-based consultation with the specialist lasting from 30 minutes to one hour. In as little as two weeks, the patient receives a detailed assessment and written report to review with their own provider.
Clear Benefits to Patients
Other organizations offer their own virtual second opinion services, but these typically consist of little more than a written or email consultation. They also lack the Cleveland Clinic’s deep bench of world-renowned experts, as well as the one-on-one connection and empathy that can be so important to patients facing life-changing diseases and conditions.
The Clinic gives patients easy access to Cleveland Clinic expertise regardless of their location or circumstances. Many patients have limited mobility, live in rural areas far from major medical centers of excellence and cannot afford to make the trip for an in-person visit. In other cases, patients are being cared for by a family member who is also juggling other responsibilities, further complicating the effort required to make an in-person visit.
Increasing Demand for Better Case Reviews
It goes without saying that second opinions are vital to patient care, especially with respect to complex, life-altering diseases like cancer, dementia, and others. Recent studies reveal that 21% of diagnoses involving complex conditions are incorrect and that two-thirds (66%) of treatment plans must be modified. Estimates of the cost of misdiagnoses per 100,000 plan members reach upwards of $65 million.
Indeed, The Clinic sees, on average, almost a third (28%) of diagnoses change, and almost three-quarters (72%) of treatment plans are modified as a result of second opinions rendered by Cleveland Clinic specialists.
As we all navigate a rapidly changing world, patient expectations of their care providers are higher than ever, as is their expectation for convenience. The Clinic’s virtual second opinion service serves as an extra level of care that expands Cleveland Clinic’s expertise across the country to address the ever-growing need for specialty care and case review. Meanwhile, patients using the service can move toward better outcomes with greater confidence and peace of mind, all without leaving their couch.