The health and well-being of your employees are important to the success of your business, but navigating the costs of healthcare while ensuring employees have access to the best medical expertise can be a challenge.
At a time when inflation is leading to a “gathering storm” for healthcare, providing access to effective and, increasingly, virtual health benefits can be valuable both for your employees and for your organization. As you review your benefits offerings for the upcoming year, consider how an expert second opinion program can give your employees peace of mind and confidence in their care.
What Are Second Opinion Programs?
A second opinion program provides employees with access to expert specialists who can review their diagnosis and treatment plan. Employees can receive a second opinion virtually, without having to travel or take time off from work—two roadblocks that can prevent them from seeking the opinion of a specialist.
Second opinion programs can be an important tool for employees facing serious or complex health conditions. They can provide employees with clarity about their diagnosis, treatment options, and the expected course of their condition. In some cases, a second opinion may result in a recommended change in a diagnosis or treatment plan that could lead to better health outcomes and/or lower costs.
What Are the Benefits of Second Opinion Programs?
There are many benefits of second opinion programs, both for employees and employers.
Improving Diagnostic Accuracy and Treatment Effectiveness
Second opinions can improve the accuracy of diagnoses, which is important because misdiagnoses are surprisingly common. Each year approximately 12 million adults in the U.S. experience a diagnostic error. For an organization with 25,000 employees, misdiagnosis would impact over 1,400 people. Misdiagnoses can lead to:
- Unnecessary tests and procedures
- Delayed treatment
- Prolonged illness
- Serious harm
A specialist with expertise in a condition can improve the accuracy of a diagnosis and provide insights that may result in a different and often more effective treatment plan.
Reducing Healthcare Costs
In addition to the human cost of misdiagnoses, there is also a significant financial cost. Unnecessary tests, harms from misdiagnosis, and legal costs have been estimated to exceed $100 billion per year in the U.S.
Unnecessary treatment can be avoided by getting a second opinion. With insights from a specialist, employees may be able to avoid tests and procedures that aren’t needed. A study in Arthritis and Rheumatology found, for example, that a third of total knee replacement procedures were deemed inappropriate. A second opinion from an orthopedic expert may result in a more appropriate but less expensive plan of care.
Improving Health Equity
By virtue of geography, employees may lack access to the expertise needed to support them in their health journeys. Today, more than one-third of Americans live in a county that does not offer adequate access to primary care providers, hospitals, pharmacies, or trauma centers.
Lack of access makes it challenging to schedule an appointment with the right specialist for a single opinion, let alone a second opinion to confirm the accuracy of a diagnosis or the suitability of a treatment plan. Even when specialty expertise is available locally, an appointment with a specialist can take weeks or even months to confirm, and gathering the necessary medical records can be complicated and time-consuming.
For organizations with remote employees, second opinions delivered virtually not only save time and costs associated with traveling to see a specialist but also help ensure employees have access to the right medical expertise to make the most informed decisions about their health.
Providing Peace of Mind
Beyond the cost savings and improved health outcomes, second opinion programs can provide employees with peace of mind. People who receive a second opinion often feel more confident and reassured in their diagnosis and treatment plan. They may also have a better understanding of their condition and what to expect going forward.
Discover the Benefits of Our Second Opinion Program for Your Employees
The Clinic by Cleveland Clinic offers expert second opinions that can provide your employees with the peace of mind they deserve. Direct access to Cleveland Clinic’s 3,500 expert physicians in more than 550 subspecialties can help improve the accuracy of diagnoses and lead to more effective treatment plans.
The virtual program is convenient and easy to use for employees, with no travel or time off from work required.
Learn more about our second opinion program for employees and how you can add this service to your benefits today.