CNN Medical Correspondent
In August, just days before her daughter was to start her sophomore year of college, Dr. Lucy Sauer faced a troubling choice: Should her daughter have a device surgically implanted in her chest to control her heart rhythm?
One doctor, a cardiologist, told Sauer that her daughter, Hannah Remmel, "absolutely" needed a defibrillator. He said an MRI of Remmel's heart showed a rare congenital deformity, and he feared that she might die without the device.
But Remmel's primary care physician wasn't so sure. He doubted Remmel even had the deformity. Sauer, a family physician in Little Rock, Arkansas, needed clarity.
"I didn't want to drag Hannah home from her college in Florida to get a second opinion here. But I also didn't know any doctors in Florida she could go to," Sauer says. "So I went online."
Two weeks and $565 later, Sauer had her answer from the Cleveland Clinic's online second opinion service: Her daughter's heart was just fine. She had no deformity and no need for heart surgery.
Remmel never actually saw Cleveland Clinic doctors; they examined her MRI images and test results from the Little Rock cardiologists.
"I was so relieved," Sauer says. "It was fabulous."
"I'm really impressed with these services," says Dr. John Santa, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center. "They provide access to some of the most knowledgeable specialty physicians in the world."
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