Access to a world of medical expertise without leaving home

When you or a member of your family are faced with a serious illness or injury, a second medical opinion can be a vital tool to ensure that you have received the correct diagnosis or that the most appropriate course of treatment is being proposed. Case in point evidence from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston reports that approximately 30 percent of the time when reviewing pathology slides, a change in diagnosis results, sometimes impacting treatment.

While medical centers of excellence are one of the best resources for expert second opinions, travel to these medical centers can be difficult, especially if you are ill. A better option for many people is a virtual second opinion. You can take advantage of the medical expertise of the world’s top specialists without leaving your home.

What is a virtual consultation?

A virtual consultation is a process for getting a second or third medical opinion without seeing the specialist in person. There are different approaches to the virtual consultation process. If your physician arranges the consult, he or she will give the specialist who is providing the second opinion the background on your case and gather feedback.

If you seek the consultation on your own, you will need to identify a specialist who is willing to do a remote consultation. You will then need to provide the specialist with all pertinent medical records, pathology reports, imaging studies, medical history, as well as the questions you would like to have addressed. The specialist will then deliver his or her medical opinion directly to you. The downside of that approach is that the information can be difficult to understand unless the specialist phrases it in layman’s terms. Also, most providers are unwilling to give a remote opinion directly to the patient due to licensing and liability concerns.

Another option is to work with a private health advisory firm like PinnacleCare to manage the complete process and help you gain expedited access to top medical specialists around the globe. Our team will gather your complete medical record and collaborate with our Medical Team to review the information. The Medical Team will then choose an appropriate specialist at a center of excellence to provide the consultation and forward a clinical summary, pertinent, organized medical records, and radiology and pathology reports if appropriate.

This approach can often be beneficial in helping to source top specialists nationally who are willing to provide a virtual consultation and coordinating the collection, organization, and transfer of your relevant medical history. In addition, it is also an opportunity to get answers to important questions you may have about your diagnosis or treatment options. Our team will work with you and your family to develop a list of specific questions about the diagnosis and treatment options for the specialist to answer during the consultation. We then obtain a written report from the specialist that answers the questions posed with references cited and either confirms, refutes or gives options regarding the diagnosis and treatment plan. If the specialist does not agree with the original treatment plan, he or she will suggest a more appropriate or an alternative approach. Our Medical Team will review the report to present the findings in layman’s language and answer any questions the report may raise.

What types of medical issues can be addressed through a virtual consultation?

A virtual consultation for a second opinion is more appropriate for some issues than others, most notably:

  • cancer
  • certain types of complex orthopedic cases
  • congenital heart disorders
  • spine disorders
  • joint replacement cases
  • transplants
  • liver disorders
  • complex pediatric disorders
  • certain neurologic disorders in adults and children
  • genetic disorders

They are not recommended as being useful for dermatologic conditions, chronic pain, ophthalmologic issues, and psychiatric diagnoses. An in-person consultation is more appropriate for these conditions since an examination is often necessary to understand the full scope of symptoms.

Virtual consultations provide you with easy, convenient access to global medical expertise you would otherwise have to travel to receive. This second opinion can help shape your treatment and give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you are doing all you can to effectively battle the health challenges you face.