The data’s in on the use of eConsults to decrease primary care referral rates and improve access to timely care
Primary care referral rates are rising, while the availability of specialists is decreasing.
Healthcare organizations across the country are being challenged to leverage innovative resources to close this gap in care and get patients the care they need.
Curious about the telehealth platform proving effective? Learn more about how eConsults allow primary care providers (PCPs) to expand access to specialty-guided treatment, within the comfort of the primary care setting.
Highlight: North County Health Servies (NCHS)
North County Health Services has a distinguished, nearly half-century-long history of serving the primary care needs of a largely low income, the working-poor population in North San Diego County, California.
NCHS’s mission is to address disparities in care confronted by those in lower socioeconomic groups, ensuring access to high-quality, effective primary care services.
Like many non-profit Federally Qualified Health Centers that work with underserved patient populations, NCHS faces significant challenges in obtaining specialty care for its patients.
Reasons that vulnerable patients – a group that includes the elderly, rural residents as well as immigrants – experience difficulty in accessing specialty care include:
- A scarcity of specialists who accept Medicaid due to low reimbursement
- Patients’ own difficulties in arranging childcare and/or transportation
These factors lead to long wait-times for appointments, reduced access to care, and deteriorating health for Medicaid patients unable to obtain needed specialty care.
With the knowledge that patients’ challenges in obtaining specialty care would likely persist in the future, NCHS physicians began the process of exploring technology solutions that could alleviate the problem by reducing primary care referral rates through access to on-demand specialty care insight.
After a thorough evaluation period, NCHS selected the AristaMD eConsult Platform, an asynchronous (also known as store-and-forward) telehealth platform that facilitates communication between primary care physicians (PCPs) and specialists through eConsults.
eConsult implementation results
eConsults connect primary care providers to on-demand specialists available to guide physicians in determining the need for a face to face referral, and most often providing guidance for treatment within the primary care office.
The information exchange is seamless, secure, and fits into existing clinical workflows, interoperable with any EHR.
“The results exceeded our expectations in terms of the ease of adopting AristaMD’s service into the primary care workflow.”
Dr. Denise Gomez, CMO & Physician at NCHS
AristaMD’s HIPAA-compliant electronic consultation (eConsult) platform connects PCPs to specialists, leveraging a national board-certified panel of specialists that span over 70 specialty and subspecialty areas. eConsult responses are returned within 24 hours, the majority within just 6.
eConsults positively impact clinical practice for primary care physicians in several ways:
- Replace unnecessary specialist visits
- Allow PCPs more patient care oversight
- Provide interim care planning advice while patients wait to be seen by a specialist
- Provide non-emergent EKG review Validation of treatment plan
- Validate the need to refer
- Answer treatment questions or medication regimen confirmation
- Guide specialized workup recommendations for specific conditions
- Ensure patients receive the appropriate pre-visit workup when a specialist referral is necessary