Virtual Second Opinion: Here’s What to Know
Jan 30, 2023 Cedars-Sinai Staff
Receiving a diagnosis of a complex or unusual medical condition can be disheartening. In most cases, it is an unnerving experience filled with questions and uncertainty.
A second opinion can help you make more informed, confident decisions as you explore all the treatment options available. Cedars-Sinai is now offering this service to all individuals online through the Cedars-Sinai Virtual Second Opinion portal.
Virtual Second Opinion provides patients currently outside of the Cedars-Sinai family convenient access to world-renowned, expert and highly trusted medical specialists.
"Seeking a second opinion for your health diagnosis can help you make more informed, confident decisions as you explore all the treatment options available."
What is a second opinion?
A second opinion is when you request that an additional medical professional give you their recommendation regarding your diagnosis and treatment options. This second medical professional, who specializes in your condition, carefully reviews documentation—including relevant imaging and other test results—to tailor a plan that’s best for you. This can be done in person or virtually and is highly personalized to the patient.
Why seek a second opinion?
Getting a serious diagnosis can feel overwhelming, and it is important to be fully informed. Receiving a second opinion from an outside expert can help put you and your loved ones at ease and may transform your care options. Second opinions help get the reassurance you need to take the next step and make knowledgeable choices about your health.
You should consider getting a second opinion if you:
- Are looking to confirm your diagnosis or gather more specifics about your condition
- Feel confused, frustrated or have questions about what to do after receiving a diagnosis
- Are looking to understand if your treatment plan is the best one available and right for your needs
- Need answers promptly that may impact your care plan
What is the value of a second opinion?
Second opinions help you advocate for yourself and build your confidence in being an active participant in your healthcare. This approach has proven to be successful in addressing questions and concerns for patients looking to explore advanced or alternative treatment options, or for those whose current treatment might not be effective.
But what will my current doctor think?
A common misconception is to worry about what your doctor will think if you seek a second opinion from a different practitioner: Will they think that I don’t trust their initial diagnosis or recommended course of treatment? Will my doctor be offended?
The reality is doctors often encourage their patients who want a second opinion to do just that, and many doctors seek out the expertise of their colleagues when making a diagnosis or determining a treatment plan.
Which is more reliable: in-person or virtual second opinions?
In recent years, and particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic, online capabilities have significantly evolved to provide patients with the convenience of efficient online options—from video appointments with your primary care physician to easy access to electronic medical records and now virtual second opinions.
The tool is giving individuals, regardless of their geographic location, the opportunity to access world-class healthcare advice. It also makes it easy for you to communicate with your medical team, obtain your medical records and know exactly where you are in the process.
When should I consider getting a second opinion?
Consider getting a second opinion virtually if any of the following apply to you or loved ones in your care:
- Severity of illness or injury makes it difficult to travel
- Condition isn’t severe enough to visit a healthcare provider
- Difficulty in needing to take time off work or accommodating a busy schedule
- Wanting to avoid the wait times and complexities of an in-person visit
- Looking for convenience, being the primary caretaker of elderly adults or have children
How do I sign up for a second opinion at Cedars-Sinai?
Signing up through our Virtual Second Opinion website is quick and easy, and it includes a one-time fee not covered by insurance, although FSA and HSA options may be available. Once complete, we will connect you with our experienced team.
What’s included in the service?
Signing up for Virtual Second Opinion provides you with:
- Prompt communication: Within one business day, a nurse coordinator will meet with you to learn about your condition and the care you have received so far. This will inform matching you with the right provider for your diagnosis and our ability to obtain your medical records.
- Concierge service: A dedicated second opinion team to guide you through every step of the process. This includes the ability to tailor your second opinion to the questions you need answers to most.
- Personalized report: Within seven business days after your medical records are collected, you will receive a custom report with tailored treatment options and answers to your most pressing questions.
- Convenient, virtual education session with an expert physician: Following this report, we will schedule a video visit with you and one of our world-class specialists to review the report in detail, further clarify findings and answer any additional questions to ensure you have the information necessary to empower your decisions. This virtual approach allows you to receive real-time care from the comfort of your home.
Patients should not hesitate to get a second opinion. This is an invaluable chance to ask questions and get a fresh point of view from a nationally recognized expert. Learn more here.