Retrospective analysis of patients self-referred to comprehensive ophthalmology seeking second opinions
Daniel Gologorsky1, Scott H Greenstein2
1Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH, USA; 2Department of Ophthalmology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
Abstract: Patients choose to seek a second opinion in matters related to their health for a variety of reasons, and the total cost associated with these second opinion visits is estimated to be billions of dollars annually. Understanding the reasons behind second opinion self-referrals is key to improving patient satisfaction and reducing redundancy in delivered health care. This study represents a retrospective analysis of the records from a single provider at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI) Comprehensive Ophthalmology Service in order to determine the various reasons that patients self-refer to an ophthalmology clinic seeking second opinions. A total of 174 patients presenting for a second opinion were identified over a one-year period. Patients presented for second opinions for two primary reasons: 60% presented in order to seek a confirmation of a diagnosis from an outside ophthalmologist (54%) or optometrist (6%), and 40% presented due to a previous adverse experience with an outside provider, such as perceived treatment failure (26%), poor bedside manner (3%), distrust of the provider (5%), and poor provider communication skills (7%). This study strives to reiterate that the reduction of adverse patient experiences through effective communication of expected treatment options and outcomes, with a realistic time course of therapy, could significantly improve patient satisfaction and reduce costly second opinion visits.
Keywords: referral, self-referral, second opinion, comprehensive ophthalmology
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