Hospitals offer second opinions to enhance cancer care

In a move to better inform patients, Edward Hospital & Health Services in Illinois is referring cancer patients who want a second look at their tests and diagnosis to the system's Second Opinion Clinic.

Through the clinic, Edward Hospital aims to give patients expedited second opinions for cancer and other conditions, the hospital announced today. 

"Some insurers even require a second opinion for certain diagnoses," said Alex Hantel, director of Medical Oncology for Edward Cancer Center, according to the clinic website.

The process involves a nurse navigator to coordinate patient care, explaining test results, evaluating treatment options, setting up visits with specialists and getting imaging or test results from primary care physicians.

The clinic comes as hospitals are increasingly promoting oncology services to attract cancer patients and gain market share. Tapping into the lucrative cancer care market, hospitals have been beefing up their oncology services with new treatment centers and, for some organizations, second-opinion clinics.

"We have a baby-boomer population moving into the years when chronic diseases are prone to develop. Also, we're treating people longer than we used to because knowledge and medical research have improved outcomes and longevity," Saint Francis Hospital and Health Centers President and CEO Robert Savage said about the need for its new $1 million cancer center, the Poughkeepsie Journal reported.

Meanwhile, OhioHealth operates a second-opinion clinic to confirm breast cancer detection. And the Cleveland Clinic has been offering its MyConsult, a Web-based second-opinion service since 2005.

The Clinic's second-opinion services get reimbursed at standard virtual consult rates, but because patients come from all over, the organization can't contract with every payer, according to CIO Martin Harris. Patients usually pay up front, and the Clinic helps them submit a reimbursement claim, FierceHealthIT previously reported.

The upfront fees for a Cleveland Clinic consultation and second opinion can cost about $565, FierceHealthcare previously reported. To handle a similar situation of various payers, Edward Hospital advised patients to ask their insurers if they cover second opinions before using the clinic.

For more:
- here's the hospital announcement and clinic website
- read the Poughkeepsie Journal article
- here's the OhioHealth website