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Medical second opinion refers to a patient’s act of requesting or seeking evaluation of his health condition by another physician or specialist to verify and confirm the diagnosis and treatment prescribed by the previous physician or to know an alternative treatment plan. It is primarily sought after when the first physician recommends a complex/painful surgery or painful and risky procedures. The other situations that propel the patient to seek a medical second opinion are when the patients is not sure of the diagnosis or is unsatisfied with the treatment plans offered by the primary physician or when it is required by the insurance plan or when the physician himself recommends to go for it.
The overall global medical second opinion market is currently doing well and is on the rise, which is estimated to rise to $3.4 billion by 2020, growing at a CAGR of 18.2%. The global market for Medical second opinions in 2014 is spread throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Rest of the world. Americas occupy the largest market share of 43% in 2014. The global market is emerging at a steady pace with increase in the number of patients who are willing to take health insurance and seeking second opinions for better or alternative treatment or diagnosis. There have been laws emerging in the favor of patients in the U.S. such as Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to enhance the quality and affordability of health insurance reforms and decrease the costs of healthcare services for individuals. The advances in telemedicine or mHealth help to close the gaps in healthcare by enabling the doctors to attend patient demands in a short span of time and eliminate the delays in treatment. The individuals are referring to the internet and mobile applications for second opinion before undergoing complex procedures, thereby opening a window of opportunity for medical second opinion services.
mHealth refers to the seeking of medical help and information from mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets through internet and specially developed healthcare mobile applications offered online. In a survey conducted in U.S., it was discovered that more than 50% of the smartphone users in the U.S. research from their phone for a second opinion before undergoing treatment for their respective medical condition. This trend has been growing over the years, owing to the increasing number of smartphones sold. The soaring number of healthcare apps contributes to this as well. It is estimated that in 2015, there will be a total of 1,400 million smartphone users all over the world out of which approximately 500 million users make use of healthcare apps, which enables the mHealth industry to grow.
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