Berlin - In times of increasing quality discussions in the health care system and due to their own internet research, more and more patients want to obtain second medical opinion. A right to second opinion is to be enshrined in the Act to Strengthen Supply, which is currently in the political vote. Armin Goetzenich, managing director of the professional association of established hematologists and oncologists in Germany (), explains to the Deutsches Ärzteblatt why well-founded second opinion is often so important for oncological patients.
5 questions to Armin Goetzenich of second opinion
DÄ: Mr. Goetzenich, cancer patients want to consult second doctor - doesn't this already exist? Goetzenich : No, not in its current form. In the future, patients should for the first time have statutory right to second medical opinion. However, there have been various additional offers from health insurers for second opinion for long time. There have always been patients who have consulted more than one doctor before agreeing to proposed treatment, that is, the need is there.
DÄ: Are you afraid that legal regulation could restrict the second opinion to certain services and certain doctors? Goetzenich: Basically not, because the legislature has formulated in the present draft law that the right to second opinion in particular targets those indications for which the risk of an extension of the indications cannot be ruled out. In oncology, however, this is not the case for diseases with confirmed diagnosis and available findings.
DÄ: What is the value of second opinion, especially for oncological patients? Goetzenich: Especially in the case of potentially life-threatening illness and significant losses in quality of life, the second opinion can be very helpful for some patients. However, the quality of the second opinion must also be guaranteed, that is, the second opinion cannot only be created on the basis of the patient file, as is still done by some health insurance companies.
Deutsches Ärzteblatt print
In addition to handing over the documents, the prerequisite is the personal presentation of the patient and his examination by the doctor. The BNHO, for example, has launched project with the IKK health plus from Saxony-Anhalt, with which the obtaining of second opinion is financed for patients with haematological or oncological diseases on request.Our cancer specialists, who act as second opinion doctors, practice at spatially acceptable distance from the first treating doctor. In our opinion, not all offers on the Internet can provide this.
DÄ: In your experience, what influence does obtaining second opinion have on the compliance of patients with oncological diseases? Goetzenich: From our point of view, the second opinion can strengthen the compliance and adherence of oncological patients. Understandably, many patients are unsettled by the cancer diagnosis. If the second opinion does not deviate from the therapy strategy of the first treating doctor, it gives the patient confirmation of the therapeutic approach and thus security and clarity in this difficult phase of life.
This tends to strengthen the relationship of trust between patient and doctor. If it deviates, it also opens up alternative options for the patient. As rule, he will not be unsettled by this, but rather strengthened by the gain in information and transparency. In most cases, the patient feels more autonomous with broader range of information.
DÄ: You already mentioned the one that finances second opinion for patients with hematological or oncological diseases, if they wish . What were your motivations for this cooperation? Goetzenich: The reasons for our cooperation project were on the one hand the need already described and on the other hand the assurance of quality. Second medical opinion has also gained significantly in popularity thanks to the Internet in recent years. In addition to these commercial providers, we would like to present high-quality offer for patients with hematological or oncological diseases together with IKK gesundheit plus.
Our members, who act as experts, are proven cancer specialists with many years of experience in treatment and the emotional accompaniment of cancer patients. Nobody is better suited to create technically well-founded second opinion that really helps the patient.
An outstanding element of the project cooperation is that the second opinion takes place in the context of personal conversation and an examination and not only based on the patient file. It was also our primary concern to save patients time-consuming search for experts, to offer high-quality second opinion at reasonable distance and to ensure that appointments are made quickly.