A Gallup poll found that 49% of individuals said they never seek a second opinion when their physician diagnoses a condition, prescribes a new medication or treatment, or recommends surgery. Maybe due to lack of time, or the lack of clarity around the value of second opinions. But, up to 20% of serious medical cases are misdiagnosed, and that’s a problem.
A misdiagnosis means that the doctor misread or interpreted results, or guessed incorrectly at your injury or illness. From unnecessary treatments and increased healthcare costs for employer and employee, to physical and emotional stress or even disability and death, a misdiagnosis can be not only life altering, but life threatening. There are several reasons why a misdiagnosis could take place, proving the importance of seeking a second opinion, especially for serious conditions. With up to 88% of second opinions resulting in major changes to diagnoses or recommended treatments, both employees and employers benefit.
Vendor Spotlight: MORE Health
Diagnostic errors are most often caused by poor communication between physicians, patients and their families, a healthcare system workflow that is not properly designed to support the diagnostic process and/or healthcare culture that discourages transparency and the disclosure of diagnostic errors.
John (alias) had been suffering from shortness of breath, heart palpitations and nausea for several months. He visited a local cardiologist who diagnosed him with coronary artery disease. John’s doctor shared that his best chance of preventing a heart attack was to have a stent inserted into one of his arteries, a very invasive and expensive procedure.
John activated his MORE Health Employee Benefit for a second opinion, and his case was reviewed by a leading cardiologist, who determined John did not need a stent. Following lifestyle modifications suggested by his collaborating physicians through MORE Health, John’s symptoms disappeared, and he returned to work without undergoing an expensive, invasive and completely unnecessary procedure and saved his employer up to $61,184.
That’s just one of tens of thousands of examples of how a second opinion can prevent employees and employers from unnecessary treatments and spending. A misdiagnosis includes both the failure to accurately and timely diagnose a patient and failure to adequately communicate that diagnosis to the patient to enable them to make an informed decision about their healthcare. Misdiagnosis also includes over-diagnosis in which patients receive over treatment that is potentially dangerous. The stakes of medical misdiagnosis shouldn’t be overlooked. Nearly 30% of misdiagnoses are life threatening or result in death or permanent disability. Altogether, medical diagnosis errors kill over 40,000 people per year in the US. Cancers are among the highest misdiagnosed diseases, with up to 44% of cancers being misdiagnosed in the United States.
How it Works:
Second Opinion Programs Can Meaningfully Reduce the Health Impact of Misdiagnosis
Second opinions are one of the most powerful tools available for reducing diagnostic error. A study on second opinions published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings revealed that up to 88% of second opinions for serious medical conditions resulted in major changes to the diagnosis or recommended treatment plan. After receiving a second opinion, even if it confirms the initial diagnosis, most patients believe the second opinion to be valuable. But second opinions only generally reduce diagnostic error if they are of equal or better quality than the first diagnosis. To receive at least an equal quality diagnosis, patients must receive a second opinion from a high quality academic medical center.
Second Opinions Can Potentially Reduce the High Healthcare Cost
Healthcare utilization from misdiagnosis, over treatment and fraud in private insurance is estimated to account for up to 30% of private healthcare expenditures, or $422 billion in 2011. This cost is covered by insurance premiums and patient out of pocket expenses. As second opinion programs continue to be researched, the most comprehensive study to date has shown that for each $1.00 spent on second opinion programs, medical costs are reduced by $2.63. This makes second opinion programs a cost-saving must, not only for self-insured companies but for all plans alike.
Second opinion services, like MORE Health, can be included in a benefit plan for very low costs. Services like MORE Health provide employees with exclusive access to physicians at the world’s top ranked hospitals even when they are part of narrow networks or otherwise unable to get in to see top physicians. MORE Health (www.morehealth.com), a global digital healthcare company, provides nearly 10,000 serious or critical illness patients per year with second opinions from the best physicians in the world at high quality U.S. academic medical centers. The technology platform is state-of-the-art and HIPPA and FDA compliant. MORE Health’s collaborative approach to diagnosis puts the patient at the center of the process – empowering them to make informed decisions regarding their own healthcare.
- Reduce Healthcare Spend
- Control Medical Costs
- Compliments any existing Health Plan
- Reduce Unnecessary Surgeries
- Attract and Retain Employees
- Reduce Absenteeism
- Boost Productivity
- Access to World Class Physicians
- Virtual Service, No Office Visits
- Quick Turn Around Times
- Independent Diagnosis
- Collaborative Co-Diagnosis
- No Out-of-Pocket Costs
- Reduces Stress