Second Opinions Give You Options

When faced with a diagnosis of a severe medical issue, many of us find it socially uncomfortable to appear to cast doubt on our doctors by seeking a second opinion from an independent source. It is precisely at such times that this course of action is most useful. You likely have employees facing tough medical diagnoses every day, and they may not be aware of the importance of seeking a second opinion in the face of those diagnoses.

The value of second opinions is that they will either confirm the original diagnosis or point to another conclusion that may indeed prove to be the correct one. According to Advance Medical, a firm that help patients obtain expert medical opinions:

• 39% of second opinions result in an improved diagnosis
• 60% of patients who seek a second opinion modify their treatment as a result of an improved diagnosis

Situations where it is best to consider an second opinion are typically when patients find themselves asking:

• Is my diagnosis correct?
• Is my treatment plan correct?
• Are there other options besides surgery?
• Am I progressing as expected?
• I’ve heard of “x”….would that be appropriate in my case?
• What are the underlying causes of my condition?
• What else can be done?
• Could my situation actually be something else?
• Will my condition worsen if I wait to have the recommended procedure/surgery?

Seeking a second opinion isn't about being a demanding patient; it's simply about being responsible for one’s health and well-being. It's about attaining peace of mind and putting oneself on track for the best outcome.

There are practical challenges your employees face, such as finding another doctor in network to provide a second opinion, finding the best place to receive treatment, and sharing diagnostic tests with other professionals. If you’re not currently offering a program for your employees that makes it easier to obtain a second opinion and navigate these challenges, it’s something to consider. If you do offer a program, sharing information like this with employees could be an important tool in educating them on their options.

For more information on how you can offer your employees health advocacy tools, visit

Peter Bingaman
by Peter Bingaman

Partner, Mercer

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