More Hospitals Nationwide Offer Patients Second Opinions Online
The Los Angeles Times on Monday reported on the increased number of hospitals nationwide -- such as the Cleveland Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital and Johns Hopkins University Hospital -- that offer patients second opinions online. An estimated 5,000 patients requested online consultations from hospitals in 2002, and companies such as MDExpert.com and FindCancerExperts.com report that the number of patients who seek second opinions online has increased in the past few years. The services cost between $500 and $1,000; most health insurers do not cover the cost. Although demand for the services has increased, some physicians raise concerns that "online physicians can miss critical information they might catch otherwise" and may "be unable to adequately convey complex medical information in writing," the Times reports. "(Diagnosing online) is dangerous. This is not what we do," Dr. David Goldstein, co-director of the Pacific Center for Health Policy and Ethics at the University of Southern California, said (Costello, Los Angeles Times, 12/30/02).
In related news, Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal last week examined a plan that Blue Shield of California will launch this year to reimburse physicians for online consultations (Bennett, Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal, 12/26).
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