The process by which most patients receive second opinions is pretty straightforward. After an initial diagnosis, an individual books an appointment at another doctor’s office in order to gain more perspective into a medical condition. The doctor preforming the second opinion must request access to the patient’s medical records and any imaging or lab work that had previously been preformed. If the patient lives far away, it can take days, and maybe even weeks for the image exams to be transferred using traditional methods like mail. Once the imaging data finally arrives, the medical staff often needs to match the information with the patient’s record.
The underlying theme: the process by which patients receive second opinions on cases involving imaging is slow.
Over the past few years we’ve seen an increase in virtual second opinions. These services allow patients to consult with experts all around the world, without ever having to leave their homes. In return, major hospital systems can expand their reach, in some cases even providing second opinions to patients in distant countries. Virtual second opinion programs can reduce administration / processing time, increase qualified candidates for the medical facility, and provide a simple-to-use platform to track incoming patient records.
In order to have a successful virtual second opinion program, it is essential to have the ability to securely collect patient data online while complying with HIPAA standards. In addition to receiving medical history information virtually, second opinion programs also need the ability to easily transport image exams through the web. Due to the size and file formats, medical images can be the most difficult for patients to share.
Good news: it can be done!
Using a simple easy-to-install patient portal geared towards medical image transport, any office can set up a robust second opinion platform.
To learn more about how this works, we spoke to Dr. Stephen Papadopoulos, Chief Medical Officer at the Barrow Neurological Institute and user of DICOM Grid’s image exchange software for second opinions.
Streamlining online patient requests for second opinions is a high priority for Dr. Papadopoulos, “Patients from all over the globe seek our specialized service in obtaining the most accurate and timely treatment options for their conditions. A key component of this is making the online submittal process as easy and as fast as possible.”
Before utilizing DICOM Grid’s software, patient radiological films/CDs and associated reports were sent by courier service. This method of transporting image exams was inconvenient for both patient and medical staff, and caused bottlenecks during the patient evaluation process. “It’s critical that we receive a patient’s image exams in order to get a complete medical history. Sometimes we would wait days for the films or CD to arrive in the mail,” said Dr. Papadoplous. “Once they arrived at our facility they needed to be matched with the patient’s electronic submission. After completion of the second opinion we would overnight the package back to the patient.”
To address these challenges, Barrow raised the bar on second opinions. To make sure Barrow was doing the best for patients and their families, Dr. Papadopoulos enlisted DICOM Grid to integrate a unique solution to improve the process for capturing patient imaging data.
DICOM Grid’s solution makes it simple for patients to securely upload complex medical images, send associated reports, and input credit card information to seek a second opinion. The integration of the image exchange portal into Barrow’s second opinion website makes the process seamless for the patients, doctors, and medical staff.
Since implementing DICOM Grid, Barrow was able to transform its process for capturing patient imaging data. “Our volume is quite high, a good problem to have,” says Dr. Papadoplous.
Within 30 days of implementation, approximately 20% of online referrals resulted in new surgeries, many of them for out of state patients.
Discover how your organization can increase qualified second opinion candidates with DICOM Grid.