Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Facilitating second opinions

Simon Schurr at Collaborative Medical Technology Corporation suggests in this blog post that current levels of overtreatment and inappropriate care could be reduced by more widespread and judicious use of second opinions.  He points to unnecessary surgeries, overtreatment of back pain, mistreating ovarian cancer, and outdated procedures. 

His diagnosis: "The causes of inappropriate care are complex, but often the root is simply lack of knowledge, an honest mistake, or a healthcare provider who simply wants to help a patient when treatment isn’t working. Sometimes, profit-driven decision-making or fear of malpractice claims lead to over-testing and overtreatment."

His solution:  "The best approach may be a combination of well-informed patients asking the right questions and seeking top doctors who stay abreast of the latest research, and rigor in using second opinions."

It is likely that some of Simon's interest in this matter reflects his company's desire to be a facilitator for such increased collaboration and consultations. CMTC provides "a cloud-based platform with secure 'one-click access' for cross-enterprise connectivity among healthcare professionals, hospitals & payers."

But putting aside that pecuniary interest, there is broader merit in enhancing the ability for a patient and doctor to seek the second opinion they need in real time, with an assurance of the second doctor's availability, affability, and ability.

1 comment:

Neville Sarkari MD, FACP said...

The power of "doing something" is immense. Recently one of our hospice patients wanted to "do more" for their metastatic lung cancer (brain mets).

The local oncologist sent them to an academic center in a bigger city.

There, the oncologist told them that a "light dose" of chemotherapy (read, an ineffective dose") might help their symptoms.

Now the patient needs a port placed and wants to get a low dose of chemotherapy for an undetermined amount of time...at the Hospice's expense.

This type of thing happens constantly.