No time to talk with patients? Online provider markets second opinions

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For years, radiology leaders have exhorted radiologists to get out of the reading room and communicate with clinicians. More recently, the message has extended to include patients, evidenced by the American College of Radiology’s Face of Radiology campaign to educate patients about the role of radiologists in the healthcare process. Some have lobbied for direct communication of radiology results to patients. Yet, for many patients, radiologists remain invisible, anonymous and silent.

A new model attempts to address the problem. Chicago-based radiology services provider MetisMD aims to meet patients’ communication needs by providing online access to U.S. radiologists for patients willing to pay for a radiology second opinion.

Patients can securely upload their medical imaging exams directly from the website, receive a second opinion report in 24-48 hours, as well as discuss and review the findings with a board-certified radiologist, according to a MetisMD release.

Radiologists have a PR problem, Gregory Goldstein, MD, president and CEO of MetisMD, told Health Imaging. “They aren’t used to talking to patients.” As patients become more involved in their healthcare, some have questions about their imaging studies. Most radiologists aren’t used to these requests. It’s typical for radiologists to refer patients back to the ordering physician, who may not have the time or knowledge to review complex advanced imaging studies with the patient.

MetisMD aims to supplement physicians with its PatientConnect program, which costs $250 for an MRI, CT or mammogram and $150 for ultrasounds or x-rays. The fee includes a 15-minute phone consultation with the radiologist to discuss the findings and a one-year subscription to CloudConnect, a secure image vault where patients can store, manage and share their exams. MetisMD requests patients who use its services share the report with physicians, said Goldstein.

“Radiologists need to speak to patients—it’s time to step away from the computer screens and start interacting directly with patients. It’s essential for people to understand the central role radiologists play in healthcare—and how our interpretations are a critical piece of the diagnostic puzzle,” said Goldstein.