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Cleveland Clinic Expertise Now More Accessible to International Physicians

Cleveland Clinic’s Virtual Second Opinions program has been refined

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Worldwide acceptance of digital health platforms makes it easy to get a second opinion on a diagnosis or treatment plan. Now, Cleveland Clinic has refined its Virtual Second Opinions program to provide educational second opinions with unprecedented speed.


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International physicians can receive a definitive opinion on a diagnosis or treatment option from a world expert specifically selected for the patient’s medical condition. This timely information will facilitate informed patient medical decision making and management.

“Cleveland Clinic’s goal is to touch and positively influence as many lives as possible worldwide,” says Curtis Rimmerman, MD, MBA, Chairman of Cleveland Clinic International Operations. “As an organization, we rely on digital technology to facilitate the transfer of medical records, radiologic imaging studies and pathology slides.”

Value of a virtual second opinion

There are multiple reasons to access Virtual Second Opinions:

  • Confirm that the diagnosis you made is correct.
  • Ensure the treatment you recommended is optimal.
  • Be reassured the recommended treatment is not available locally.
  • Receive an expert opinion on treatments, including innovative treatment options.
  • Receive an additional imaging study or pathology interpretation.
  • Have the opportunity to ask questions of an expert.

“An online second opinion saves time and instills patient confidence. Should they decide to travel for care, they know what to expect and what treatment they will receive upon their arrival,” says Peter Rasmussen, MD, Chief Clinical Officer for the second opinion program.

Starting the process

The Virtual Second Opinions by Cleveland Clinic is a secure, user-friendly Internet site that can be accessed by visiting clevelandclinic.org/virtualsecondopinions . Enter your contact information and a short description of your medical concern. A concierge nurse will contact you and arrange to obtain medical records, imaging studies, pathology reports and any other pertinent information. Records that arrive in a language other than English will be translated.

Once all necessary records have been received, the information will be confidentially shared with a carefully selected Cleveland Clinic physician.

“If you request a specific physician, we will try to accommodate that request. However, our goal is to match every patient with the best Cleveland Clinic expert for their condition,” Dr. Rasmussen explains.

Radiology and Pathology Consults

Opinions from Cleveland Clinic radiologists and pathologists are in high demand, since the level of subspecialty expertise they offer is not widely available in all health systems and geographic locations.


The staff of 60 pathologists spans 16 subspecialties. The Imaging Institute has more than 200 radiologists in 8 specialties. This attracts physicians seeking to confirm a diagnosis, obtain a diagnosis for a rare or complex disease or secure a definitive diagnosis in a debated situation.

“The depth of expertise in pathology has resulted in a substantial number of diagnoses changed: It’s as high as 50% of cases from some countries,” says Dr. Rimmerman.

“For imaging, it is often a matter of making a highly nuanced diagnosis of a finding that is not often seen.”

Both services are completely digitized, which allow images to be emailed or transferred via the cloud for quick turnaround. However, films and slides mailed to Cleveland Clinic, sent on disk or attached as PDFs are also welcomed.

Putting Patients First

When a patient decides to travel to Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, Florida, Abu Dhabi or, soon, London for care, the Global Patient Services Program will make all necessary arrangements.

“We understand navigating healthcare can be challenging. Cleveland Clinic’s goal is to provide a consistently worthwhile experience that positively contributes to a patient’s health outcome,” says Dr. Rimmerman.


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