Frequently Asked Questions
- Q: Who is WorldCare?
- Q: What is a WorldCare Second Opinion?
- Q: For what conditions can I get a WorldCare Second Opinion?
- Q: Who are the doctors who provide WorldCare Second Opinions?
- Q: What are the benefits of receiving a WorldCare Second Opinion for an illness?
- Q: Which hospitals provide Second Opinions through WorldCare?
- Q: What is the impact of a WorldCare Second Opinion?
- Q: How do I start? What do I need to send to WorldCare to get a Second Opinion?
- Q: Why is WorldCare’s process for obtaining a Second Opinion so rigorous and detailed?
- Q: When will I receive my Second Opinion?
- Q: How can WorldCare provide a WorldCare Second Opinion within four business days when patients can’t even get appointments with specialists that quickly?
- Q: How important is it to have access to a WorldCare Second Opinion?
- Q: Why does WorldCare work with the top teaching and research hospitals?
- Q: What happens if the Second Opinion from the WorldCare hospital is significantly different from my initial opinion, in terms of diagnosis or treatment?
- Q: What are my costs associated with getting a Second Opinion from WorldCare?
- Q: What happens to my medical file after I receive a WorldCare Second Opinion?
- Q: What should I do once I get my Second Opinion Package?
- Q: How does WorldCare protect my private information?
- Q: What is “HIPAA” and how does it protect my privacy?
Q: Who is WorldCare?
A: WorldCare is a pioneer and leader in global e-health services and solutions. Our mission is to improve the health of all people by giving affordable, timely access to quality health care services through its global network. We offer highly specialized second medical opinions from the best medical centers in North America to local doctors for their patients. WorldCare has operations in 42 countries worldwide, including the U.S. and Canada, and has provided over 19,000 medical Second Opinion consultations over its 17-year history.
Q: What is a WorldCare Second Opinion?
A: A WorldCare Second Opinion is a unique service that provides you access to advice from specialists at top academic medical centers, if you are diagnosed with a serious illness. With this service, your medical records are sent electronically, through secure means, to specialists at leading teaching hospitals. These experts review your medical records and provide you with a customized report, confirming the diagnosis and recommending a treatment plan for you.
Q: For what conditions can I get a WorldCare Second Opinion?
A: WorldCare has handled over 19,000 Second Opinion consultations around the world, for a wide variety of serious illnesses. See Covered Conditions for a sample list of covered conditions.
Q: Who are the doctors who provide WorldCare Second Opinions?
A: All WorldCare Second Opinions are provided by one or more leading specialists of the WorldCare Consortium, all top teaching and research hospitals in the U.S. Medical specialists, surgeons, pathologists, radiologists and other experts bring different skill sets and experience to each case. With a WorldCare Second Opinion, one or more members of a team of physicians selected for the special needs of your situation work on your medical case. For example, a WorldCare member who is diagnosed with cancer may get a report that includes the collaborative efforts of a multidisciplinary team of an oncologist, radiologist, pathologist, radiotherapist, and sub-specialist surgeon. This team approach is unique to WorldCare Second Opinions.
Q: What are the benefits of receiving a WorldCare Second Opinion for an illness?
A: A second opinion can help with both your diagnosis and treatment. The correct diagnosis of a serious illness can be a complex process, since it might need a multidisciplinary approach. Treatments for serious illnesses are constantly being refined and updated based on new medical research and innovation. The WorldCare Consortium hospitals are world leaders in medicine. So the team of subspecialists that review your case may have knowledge that could modify the existing treatment plan, or confirm that your current plans are based on the latest information and research available.
Q: Which hospitals provide Second Opinions through WorldCare?
A: WorldCare’s service is unique since it gives you access to the combined expertise of top teaching hospitals. The hospitals in the WorldCare network are five of the top ten academic medical centers in U.S. (as ranked annually by the U.S. News and World Report out of 6,000 hospitals). These institutions provide expert medical consultations through WorldCare, and are committed to the highest quality patient care and medical services.
This network of hospitals, known as the WorldCare Consortium, includes:
- Children’s Hospital Boston, ranked one of the top two pediatric hospitals for 21 straight years
- Duke University Medical Center, ranked eighth among America’s Best Hospitals
- Mayo Clinic, ranked one of the top two hospitals in the country
- Partners HealthCare System, Inc., in Boston, Massachusetts, which includes:
- Massachusetts General Hospital, the largest and oldest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, and ranked third among America’s Best Hospitals
- Brigham and Women’s Hospital, ranked eleventh among America’s Best Hospitals
- Dana-Farber/Partners CancerCare, with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute ranked among the top five cancer centers in the United States
- UCLA Healthcare ranked fifth among America’s Best Hospitals, and No. 1 in the Western United States for 21 consecutive years
Together, these hospitals represent over 17,000 specialists and sub-specialists, and receive over 2.6 billion dollars in annual research funding. For more information on the WorldCare Consortium hospitals, visit WorldCare Consortium.
Q: What is the impact of a WorldCare Second Opinion?
An independent study of members who received WorldCare Second Opinion found that 15% of WorldCare Second Opinions resulted in a change in diagnosis while 70% of WorldCare Second Opinions recommended revisions to the treatment plan.
Another multi-country study of WorldCare cases revealed that 18.5% of cases had a change in the diagnosis and the treatment plan was enhanced in 44.5% of cases.
The fact is that any change or enhancement in the diagnosis or treatment plan, however small, can make a world of difference to a patient with a serious illness.
Q: How do I start? What do I need to send to WorldCare to get a Second Opinion?
A: The WorldCare Second Opinion process begins once you contact WorldCare and are assigned a WorldCare Case Manager. Your Case Manager assists you throughout the process and keeps you up-to-date on the status of your Second Opinion. The first step is to fill out and sign the Patient Request Form (or consent form.) This form gives WorldCare permission to handle your medical information for the Second Opinion, and to receive your medical records from your doctor.
Your WorldCare Case Manager then works with you and your doctor to gather your medical records. You are both encouraged to submit any questions about the case which you would like the consulting specialists to answer.
When the complete medical information is received, it is reviewed for quality and completeness. The case is digitized and forwarded electronically to a WorldCare Consortium hospital through WorldCare’s encrypted system. As part of the second opinion process, all primary diagnostic tests are read again by specialists ‑ this includes pathology, radiology (MRIs, CTs, Xrays, etc.), EKGs, ultrasounds, EEGs, EMGs, Cardiac echos etc. Based on these reports, a medical specialist creates an integrated Second Opinion report with a diagnosis and recommended treatment.
Once a complete Second Opinion report is received from the hospital and reviewed for quality, your Case Manager prepares a Second Opinion Package and sends it to you and your doctor. This package may also contain additional supporting material to inform you about the medical condition and give you with suggestions for next steps.
Q: Why is WorldCare's process for obtaining a Second Opinion so rigorous and detailed?
A: The WorldCare Second Opinion process simulates what actually takes place when a patient with a serious illness visits one of the WorldCare Consortium hospitals. These hospitals are committed to providing the highest quality care to our patients worldwide, and must be sure that they thoroughly examine all of your medical records. WorldCare, as the coordinator and manager of this process, is responsible for the quality assurance and quality control of the entire operation, and our medical staff is committed to providing you with the best service possible.
The detailed medical records required by WorldCare provide additional assurance for you. The best quality medical second opinions require a review of all the original medical records. For this reason, WorldCare collects all primary records and forwards them to the most appropriate sub-specialists within the Consortium hospital. We rely on you and your referring doctor to provide us with this information. Your WorldCare Case Manager will tell you if any additional information is needed by the consulting physicians.
Q: When will I receive my Second Opinion?
A: Once we get the complete medical records, we do our best to return the report to both you and your doctor within four business days. Certain cases involving pathology, translation, or multiple Second Opinions from different hospitals, may take longer. Your WorldCare Case Manager will keep you informed throughout the process on the status of your case.
Q: How can WorldCare provide a WorldCare Second Opinion within four business days when patients can’t even get appointments with specialists that quickly?
A: WorldCare and the hospitals within the WorldCare Consortium are committed to a prompt response time. The physicians in the network share WorldCare’s commitment, and prioritize WorldCare cases in order to meet the prompt turnaround time. The multidisciplinary, multi-institutional Second Opinions and quick response time is helped by WorldCare’s existing technology network, which connects the WorldCare team with the consulting physicians at the WorldCare Consortium hospitals. This technology allows us to send cases electronically to one or more hospitals simultaneously, past their firewalls and place them directly into the hospitals’ workflow. This electronic communication with the hospitals is unique to WorldCare Second Opinions.
Q: How important is it to have access to a WorldCare Second Opinion?
A: Medicine is more complex, and changing faster, than ever before. With so many new advances, it’s impossible for any one doctor to stay on top of it all. That is why this service is more important than ever. The American Cancer Society, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and many other organizations recommend second opinions for everyone newly diagnosed with cancer. ?
An independent study of members who received WorldCare Second Opinions found that 15% of WorldCare Second Opinions resulted in a change in diagnosis while 70% of WorldCare Second Opinions recommended revisions to the treatment plan. Other studies have shown similar changes.
Q: Why does WorldCare work with the top teaching and research hospitals?
A: WorldCare has a long-term strategic alliance with the WorldCare Consortium hospitals. These hospitals are recognized internationally for the quality of care they provide, and they are committed to processing WorldCare Second Opinions. So each WorldCare Second Opinion is held to the rigorous quality standards of the top hospital at which it is rendered.
WorldCare cases are sent to specialists at these hospitals, who work together in the same center. The specialists on the team offer different types of expertise for the case. Because they frequently work together, they know how to communicate and interpret each other’s comments to provide WorldCare members with a thorough medical review, diagnosis and treatment advice.
Q: What happens if the Second Opinion from the WorldCare hospital is significantly different from my initial opinion, in terms of diagnosis or treatment?
A: In this situation, the case will be sent to another hospital for evaluation by another team of specialists – this is called a “Multi-institutional Second Opinion,” a service unique to WorldCare, also made possible because of the our technology network. So you and your doctor will receive two independent Second Opinions from two separate medical centers.
Q: What are my costs associated with getting a Second Opinion from WorldCare?
A: WorldCare covers all the costs of shipping your medical records from your doctor’s office to WorldCare, and for digitizing and transmitting these records to the WorldCare Consortium hospital. WorldCare then arranges for the doctors at the WorldCare Consortium hospital to create the second opinion report and sends the Second Opinion Package to both you and your doctor, at no expense to you.
Q: What happens to my medical file after I receive a WorldCare Second Opinion?
A: Every WorldCare Second Opinion is stored digitally at WorldCare to facilitate follow-up and future services. WorldCare will try to send cases that need follow-up to the same specialists who first reviewed the case. This makes it easier for the specialists to compare your condition with your previous Second Opinion and examine any changes.
Q: What should I do once I get my Second Opinion Package?
A: We strongly encourage you to contact your doctor, who will also receive the report. Your second opinion report will be written “physician to physician” and may include technical information that your own doctor will be able to explain. Your doctor knows you best, and together, you can decide how your WorldCare Second Opinion impacts your care.
Q: How does WorldCare protect my private information?
A: Your privacy is important to us at WorldCare, and because of this we have taken strict confidentiality measures. None of the information you give to WorldCare to be used for a second opinion will be shared with a third party, without your written consent. The Patient Consent required for WorldCare to provide you with a second opinion gives us permission to use your medical information only for your second opinion. This consent may be withdrawn by you at any time. As well, WorldCare will never sell your personal information to a third party.
All personal health information submitted to WorldCare is sent using secure methods, and all records are immediately stored in a secure database. WorldCare’s information processes and procedures are compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and treats all your personal and medical information as confidential.
Q: What is “HIPAA” and how does it protect my privacy?
A: “HIPAA” refers to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which was enacted on August 21, 1996.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued the “Privacy Rule” to implement the requirement of HIPAA. The Privacy Rule establishes, for the first time, a set of standards for the protection of certain health information. The Privacy Rule standards address the use and disclosure of individuals’ health information (called “protected health information” or PHI) by organizations subject to the Privacy Rule (called “covered entities,”) as well as standards for individuals' privacy rights to understand and control how their health information is used.
A major goal of the Privacy Rule is to insure that individuals’ health information is properly protected while still allowing the flow of health information needed to provide and promote high quality health care and to protect the public's health and well being. The Privacy Rule defines and limits the circumstances in which an individual’s protected heath information may be used or disclosed by covered entities. A covered entity may not use or disclose protected health information, except either: (1) as the Privacy Rule permits or requires; or (2) as the individual who is the subject of the information (or the individual’s personal representative) authorizes in writing.
For more information on HIPAA, visit the website of the United States Department of Health and Human Services at http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa/.