Newswise — LOS ANGELES (March 9, 2023) -- Cedars-Sinai is taking telehealth and the patient experience to the next level, now offering Cedars-Sinai Virtual Second Opinion—an online platform connecting individuals in need of complex cardiac, spine or gynecologic care with top-ranked experts who provide customized treatment options and virtual education sessions.
Participants can access Cedars-Sinai’s world-renowned experts online without having to leave home. The program, launched initially in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai, is available in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, New York and Utah—with plans to expand to several additional states across the country in the coming months.
The Virtual Second Opinion program strives to fully inform participants about specific treatment options—empowering individuals to make the best decisions for their healthcare needs.
“When you need specialized care for the most complex conditions, expertise matters, and so does convenience and speed,” said Joanna Chikwe, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Cardiac Surgery at Cedars-Sinai. “One of the special things about Virtual Second Opinion is that the physician has an opportunity to give each participant completely individualized and tailored treatment options.”
Several national and international studies have shown the value of patients obtaining a second opinion. One research study from the British Medical Journal, for example, found changes in diagnosis and treatment for up to 58% of patients who sought a second opinion.
Cedars-Sinai’s Virtual Second Opinion program seeks to build on this impact. Within 24 hours of requesting a Virtual Second Opinion, individuals are matched with a nurse coordinator who conducts a detailed intake and partners with the participant to collect and organize all necessary medical records.
Participants are then matched with a Cedars-Sinai physician with specialized expertise. The physician provides a detailed second-opinion report with an analysis of each participant’s past medical history and their previous doctor’s recommendations. The report also provides detailed answers to three questions participants can ask during enrollment.
Participants also can take advantage of a live, virtual, 30-minute education session with their Cedars-Sinai expert to review the findings, ask additional questions and discuss actionable next steps. Individuals can arrange to use a smartphone, laptop or other webcam-enabled device for the meeting, which will be conducted from the comfort of their home.
The aim is for the participant to have the educational session within six business days from the time medical record collection is complete.
Cedars-Sinai physicians provide second opinions for dozens of highly complex diseases and conditions. Heart specialists cover a variety of cardiovascular conditions, including coronary artery disease, aortic aneurysms and dissections, arrhythmias and valve dysfunction. Spine experts provide opinions for a broad range of medical issues, including disc disease, tumors and radiculopathies (injury to nerve roots in the spinal column). Gynecology specialists offer guidance on endometriosis, abnormal bleeding, and ovarian tumors and cysts, among other medical problems.
David Skaggs, MD, co-director of the Cedars-Sinai Spine Center, said that many patients with spinal conditions are initially misdiagnosed or suffer from a medical issue that was not detected by a previous practitioner—making a second opinion critically important before finalizing plans for surgery.
“Our patients benefit from the advice of a multidisciplinary team that includes spinal experts from every subspecialty, including the rarest disorders,” said Skaggs, who also serves as director of Pediatric Orthopaedics at Cedars-Sinai Guerin Children's. “Whether it’s scoliosis, kyphosis, spondylitis or another condition, chances are we can help, whether in person or through a virtual discussion.”
For these participants and others, another expert opinion means a second chance at verifying a diagnosis.
“In the same way that spinal conditions can often be misdiagnosed, many gynecologic conditions are underdiagnosed—which can cause women to suffer needless pain and frustration,” said Matthew Siedhoff, MD, vice chair of Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai and an expert in minimally invasive surgery for fibroids, ovarian cysts and endometriosis. “It’s essential to get a second opinion if you have unexplained pelvic pain or other symptoms and you’re not getting a clear diagnosis or effective treatment.”
Doing so, Siedhoff said, allows individuals to receive not only the right diagnosis but a full range of treatment options available at Cedars-Sinai, the #2 hospital in the nation and #1 in California in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals 2022-23” rankings.
Individuals can use their flexible spending accounts or health savings accounts to pay a one-time fee not covered by insurance. Learn more about Cedars-Sinai’s Virtual Second Opinion options at secondopinion.cedars-sinai.org.
Read more from the Cedars-Sinai Blog: Virtual Second Opinion: Here’s What to Know