Virtual consultations expand your access to expert specialists

March 10, 2020 in Second Opinion  •  By Miles Varn, MD
virtual consultations

Virtual access to physicians isn’t new. Patients have benefited from virtual second opinions for years and more recently, have been able to quickly and conveniently connect with physicians through computer and smartphone apps that put them in touch with primary care physicians, pediatricians, and mental health providers.

What is new is virtual access to a carefully vetted network of experienced specialists and trained medical advisors who provide advice and second opinions on serious health concerns. This type of virtual consultation expands your access to top specialists no matter where you live, and it can have a positive impact on your health outcomes. Virtual specialist consultations can help you manage ongoing health issues such as sleep disorders, pediatric development issues, wellness and nutrition, or reproductive health concerns. Virtual consultations can also help you build a plan to deal with a serious illness such as cancer, neurological disorders, spine conditions, autoimmune conditions, or cardiovascular surgery. With the information you gather through these consultations, you can make more informed medical decisions for you and your family.

The benefits of virtual specialist consultations

Beyond providing access to leading specialists at medical centers of excellence across the country, virtual specialist consults offer other benefits, including:

  • The convenience of not having to travel to the office or medical center where the specialist is located
  • The privacy of being able to conduct your consultation from home
  • Quicker access to appointments with specialists who often have months-long wait times for in-person appointments
  • The guidance of trained advisors who can help you find the right specialist and help you prepare for your consultation

If you’re considering using a service that provides virtual access to specialists, asking these questions can help you find the partner who best suits your needs:

  • How are the specialists who make up the network vetted?
  • Can I review details about the specialist, such as where he or she was trained and practices, board certification, fellowship training, and outcome and complication data for my condition?
  • What specialties does your network cover and how many specialists are in the network?
  • How do you ensure the privacy and security of my medical records and virtual communications with the specialist?
  • How will you share information with my local physician and keep her/him in the loop on testing and treatment recommendations?
  • How quickly can I get a consultation?
  • How long on average are the virtual consultations?
  • How will I communicate with the specialist and what technology is required?
  • Will I and my treating physicians receive a written report of the specialists’ recommendations?
  • Is it possible to see the specialist in person?
  • Is the service only available in the U.S.?


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