It's billed as the ultimate in patient empowerment. A Chicago medical start up is offering direct access to radiologists. Advocates say this one-on- one with a doctor who usually stays behind the scenes could not only save time, but prevent unnecessary treatment.
"When you hear some terms thrown around you get a little scared. I wanted to know pretty quickly what was going on," said Jennifer Routman, 34.
Something was up with Routman's left leg. An X-ray could not quite explain the pain so an MRI was ordered. But it would take days before her doctor could go over the results. Routman, who was training for two marathons, was nervous and didn't want to wait.
Turns out she didn't have to. Welcome to the latest trend in instant medicine.
"They can upload the images on our website and um have one of our specialists read it," said Dr. Gregory Goldstein, radiologist, CEO Metis MD.
Metis MD is an online company offering access to U.S. based radiologists who will re-read your scan and give a second opinion in as little as a day. Radiologists are doctors and the ones who initially interpret your scan and help with your diagnosis. They can weigh in on your MRI, CT X-ray, mammogram ultrasound or nuclear medicine study.
You don't have to be a computer wiz to do something like this. Almost everything can be digitally stored on a disc and most facilities will give patients a copy of their scan to take home.
Just click online, upload the image and for a price of $75 to $250 you can get a written report within 24-48 hours and have a conversation with the radiologist about what they are seeing.
"We can describe the findings and it helps give them piece of mind," said Dr. Goldstein.
CEO Gregory Goldstein says connecting with the radiologist not only saves time but provides a better read.
"On almost every case we give away more information and clarity than patients had before. That is our goal. Often we do find mistakes, either something was missed or the wrong diagnosis was called," said Goldstein.
Better medicine? Probably not says orthopedic surgeon Sherwin Ho. His take is that this may have value as a safety net but?
"Understand, the radiologist is at a distinct disadvantage compared to your surgeon or physician because he does not know your history," said Dr. Sherwin Ho, University of Chicago. "He has not had the chance to examine you and put everything together."
Still, it was enough of an assurance for Routman who was told her pain wasn't life threatening and just the beginning of a stress fracture.
"I was able to have a great run the next day?and just feel better that weekend that I was healthy," she said.
Dr. Goldstein says Metis MD strongly encourages patients to share results with their primary care physician.
There are other companies offering this service. And, of course, patients can still get a second opinion without using a website.