Asymmetric Information Information

The Next Big Growth Industry is…

the ‘second opinions’ industry. Currently, many people have an almost religious trust in their doctor’s recommendation. “A 2010 Gallup poll found that 70% of Americans are so respectful of their doctor’s advice that they never get a second opinion or do additional research.” This finding is despite the fact that medical errors may cost the U.S. $20 billion per year.

The aversion to second opinions, however, is changing. The Wall Street Journal reports:


So ConsultingMD, a new second-opinion firm, offers access to otherwise unreachable, top-class doctors. It signs up medical luminaries by invitation only, making them remotely available to individuals and corporate clients. “Now, a doctor at home on a weekend,” Dr. Hofmann says, “can lend his expertise and be a ‘hero’ to a patient in San Diego, with a nearly real-time turnaround.” Say 72 hours, not two months…

In an estimated 60% of cases, an alternate treatment is recommended—often one that’s more conservative and cheaper. At ConsultingMD, 6 out of 10 cases reviewed by doctors had been misdiagnosed or mistreated. At the Elizabeth Wende Breast Clinic in New York state, second opinions led to the cancellation of 73% of 1,053 surgeries in favor of less-invasive options.

The Wall Street Journal calls the second opinions business a “soon-to-boom business.”


  1. That’s a great concept, especially taking into account that according to a recent study 40% of patients’ problems are being misdiagnosed by doctors (you give even higher statistics) and only on the second or even third visit, it gets corrected. I especially liked the fact that while using second opinion firm, in 60% of cases the alternative treatment was all that did the job.

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