At UCLA Health, they’re rolling out a program in which its doctors will offer second opinion consults to patients around the world. To launch the program, UCLA is partnering with MORE Health, a technology vendor which offers what it calls a “physician collaboration platform.”
The idea here seems to be to help physicians work together effectively and avoid conflict or misunderstandings when they draw different conclusions. In fact, while patients can get one of the connected physicians to review an existing diagnosis, MORE’s emphasis seems to be on helping doctors work together.
According to MORE, the platform is designed to help physicians go through a “collaborative diagnosis” process, which includes access to the specialist for up to six months. Patients who use its services also work with a case manager who serves as an advocate and helps close any gaps in communication between medical teams that might be involved.
Though this could conceivably bring together physicians based in the US, MORE seems focused on bringing together non-US patients with U.S. doctors working at high-profile academic medical centers. Its network also includes physicians affiliated with Tufts Medical Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, Cleveland Clinic, University of Chicago Medicine and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Now, I’m betting most of you are wondering just what this nifty service costs and who pays for it. I wasn’t able to figure this out, at least not by looking at the material on MORE’s website. However, given that the site makes absolutely no mention of health insurance, my guess is that it’s designed for those patients who can afford a pretty hefty price tag out of pocket.
To be sure, MORE is apparently pitching its services to companies, arguing that employers can offer this option as a company-paid standard benefit or something employees can choose to pay for themselves.
Particularly if they’re self-funding healthcare benefits, companies do have compelling reasons to make this kind of option available to their employees. After all, it seems likely that diagnostic mistakes and treatment inefficiency could cost them more over the long term than an extra consult or two.
My guess, though, is that the primary customers for this platform are patients with a ton of private pay money. Employers may or may not see the advantages of making superstar doctors available to employees, but rich folk with medical troubles will always be interested in getting (more) of the best and brightest involved in their care.
This seems like a smart way for UCLA and its peers to reach lucrative patient markets overseas without having to build out infrastructure. I wouldn’t be surprised if this became a major niche within the telemedicine market going forward.