How and why to get a second opinion for cancer diagnosis using video visits.

by Dr. Shweta Kurian, MD
June 10, 2020

When you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, a second opinion can give you the information you need to make the best decisions about your cancer treatment. And, when you get a second opinion using video visits, you can consult a cancer expert from the safety and comfort of your home.

Getting a second opinion ensures you receive the most accurate diagnosis and advanced treatment plan.

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with a common or complex type of cancer, an accurate diagnosis is essential to getting the most effective treatment. That’s why it’s important to ask an additional cancer specialist to review your case and offer recommendations.

A second opinion can confirm your initial diagnosis and assure you that you’re receiving the most up-to-date information about your cancer type and stage. In other cases, a second opinion can reveal additional treatment options that may not be available elsewhere.

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, getting a second opinion via video can confirm you’re taking the right next steps—or reveal other treatment options—from the safety and comfort of your home. Oncologist Dr. Kurian shares how via the #LiveWellHealthy blog: https://bit.ly/3dQxdsD.

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A second opinion is especially important if you are:

  • Diagnosed with a rare or unusual cancer.
  • Required to get a second opinion for insurance purposes.
  • Interested in clinical trials or alternative therapies.
  • Curious about other oncologists and cancer centers that specialize in treating your cancer type.
  • Seeking confirmation and peace of mind about your treatment plan.
  • Uncertain about your options.

Video visits offer compassionate and comprehensive cancer care without environmental risks.

Because cancer can negatively impact your immune system, it’s important to minimize your exposure to COVID-19 and other infections. At MedStar Health, our cancer teams are working diligently to offer the same safe and high-quality care as before coronavirus affected our communities. However, there are many benefits for patients who want to get a second opinion using video visits, including:

  • Convenient access to cancer specialists without the stress, time, and costs associated with travel.
  • Peace of mind about your diagnosis and treatment while reducing your risk of exposure to harmful infections.
  • Personalized care from the comfort of your home where you may be most relaxed and surrounded by loved ones.
  • Comprehensive answers about your unique cancer type, stage, and treatment options within a short time-frame.
  • Emotional support from friends and family who can participate in the appointment with you virtually.

A video visit is similar to getting a second opinion in the office but instead of traveling to the appointment, you can see and talk to your oncologist from home via video. Before the visit, your current doctor will send any scans, biopsies, and lab work ahead of time so that the specialist providing the second opinion can review your case.

At MedStar Health, each cancer case is reviewed by a tumor board. That means that a team of medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists meet to discuss a coordinated treatment plan based on your unique needs. This ensures you get comprehensive and coordinated care throughout your entire fight against cancer. During your second opinion video visit, an oncologist will walk you through the tumor board’s recommendations, including your treatment options, and they’ll answer any questions you have.

Here’s what you need to know to get a second opinion using video visits.

The best time to get a second opinion. 

When you need a second opinion, time is of the essence. Depending on the severity of your cancer stage, you may need to start treatment right away. And, some therapies may need to begin within a certain time frame. However, in most cases, you have enough time to get a second opinion—and your doctor will probably encourage you to.

Still, the best time to get a second opinion using video visit is as soon as you can after receiving your initial diagnosis. When you’re looking for a second opinion, it’s best to choose a doctor or cancer center who can review your case within a few days. Talk to your doctor about how much time is appropriate to delay treatment while you seek a second opinion for your situation.

What to look for when seeking a second opinion.

When you choose the right doctor for a second opinion, you can confidently make educated decisions about your care. Your current doctor may recommend other cancer experts who you can trust to provide a thorough second opinion. Or, you may want to do your own research on other oncologists you find online or through word-of-mouth.

Here are a few things you should look for when you’re deciding where to get a second opinion.

  • What are their areas of expertise? Do they specialize in the type of cancer you have?
  • What are their credentials? Are they board-certified?
  • What are their outcomes for past patients?
  • What are their patient ratings?
  • Where do they work? What kind of cancer support services do they offer?
  • Do they offer clinical trials or other advanced treatment options that may be hard to find elsewhere?
  • How easy is it to schedule an appointment?

How to prepare for a second opinion via video visit.

You can get the most out of your video visit by preparing ahead of time. Before your second-opinion consultation, you should:

  • Check that your current doctor sent over all copies of all medical records, lab results, scans, biopsies, and any other relevant information.
  • Provide a summary of any current medications to the new doctor.
  • Write down any questions you have for the new doctor, such as:
    • Are there additional tests you think I need?
    • What treatment do you recommend?
    • Are there other treatments I should consider, such as clinical trials?
    • What are the risks and/or side effects of the recommended treatment?
    • What is the goal of the recommended treatment?
  • Ensure you have access to a phone, laptop, or computer with a camera and microphone, as well as a strong internet connection.

You may also want to consider asking a family member or friend to join the video visit for support. When your loved ones attend virtually, they can help you process the information and encourage you as you make decisions throughout your journey to and through recovery.

How to schedule a second opinion using video visits.

In most cases, your video visit is covered by insurance. And, it’s easy and fast to schedule an appointment for a second opinion using video.

  1. Call the office to schedule your appointment.
  2. The office will walk you through the process of sending over copies of your health records and necessary information.
  3. You’ll receive a link via email or text message when it’s time for your appointment.
  4. Click on the link to open up the secure video visit app using your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Don’t let uncertainty about the pandemic delay your choice to get a second opinion. Our cancer team is here to help you feel assured and equipped to make informed decisions about your cancer care.

Contact us today to schedule your second opinion consultation.
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MedStar Health Cancer Network

MedStar Health Video Visits

Category: Health Innovation     Tags: cancerCancer treatmentMedStar HealthMedStar Health Video VisitsSecond opinion