When your life depends on it, do you want the opinion of one specialist or the combined opinions of many? The ‘many’ option seems more appropriate.IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S ME Second opinions are all about advocating for your own best health care options. According to one study, 66% of second opinions resulted in better-defined diagnoses and 21% resulted in completely different diagnoses. Having the ‘second opinion’ conversation early, before treatment begins can ensure the correct treatment plan, correct diagnosis, and avoid unnecessary costs as well as unnecessary tests and procedures.
Typically, most providers and many insurance companies require or prefer a referral from your physician. The most efficient way to get an appointment in this century is to have your current provider make a referral on your behalf. Peer-to-peer referrals allow providers to quickly share the necessary details, as well as safely and securely transmit any of your diagnostic tests. In a perfect world, it’s a quick phone call and an electronic handshake, followed by a call to the patient from the central registration department to gather the required demographic and insurance info if your referral will be outside of your current health care system.
There is this unspoken unreasonable expectation that we place on our providers. Why do we expect them to know everything and be everything to all of us? Providers, just like us, are a product of their environments, their education, and their social and professional networks. We impose an unnatural expectation on them that they are all-knowing and without flaw. Why can’t we shift our mindset and encourage them to connect and communicate better, without judgment? Remove the expectation that they must know all and replace it with an expectation that they will simply help each patient intelligently navigate finding the right answer, the best treatment, and the right provider. Patient outcomes improve when we create health care cultures that promote sharing and discussing differing perspectives, as well as cultures that are receptive to differing perspectives. It’s a two-way street.
What is our role as a health care technology vendors and communication facilitators? Shouldn’t our providers have a world of specialists at their fingertips? Is it too much to ask for a built-in network for providers to openly communicate and advise each other? It's not too much to ask for. Science and technology have taken us so far. We can photograph galaxies 13.4 billion light-years away, but we have yet to normalize private community chat rooms and instant messaging for health care providers. Perhaps the most impressive advance in health care technology is simply free and open communication amongst the provider community itself.