PROGRAM TO INCREASE ACCESS TO SPECIALTY CARE FOR OFFENDER PATIENTS; LOWER HEALTHCARE AND TRANSPORTATION COSTS
Middletown, Connecticut; October 4, 2016: A new telehealth program launched in Delaware this summer enables primary healthcare providers to receive advice from specialists without offender patients having to leave their correctional facility. Connections Community Support Programs has partnered with Community eConsult Network(CeCN) to implement the telehealth eConsults program, which is expected to increase access to specialty care, and save money in healthcare and transportation costs, resulting in better health outcomes for offenders.
Connections Community Support Program provides primary medical and behavioral health care for all individuals who are incarcerated in the unified correctional system operated by the Delaware Department of Correction. Through CeCN, providers working at correctional facilities can consult with specialists on individual offender patients electronically, submitting details about the case and photos if necessary for feedback. However, Connections Community Support primary care providers have the final say on the offender patient’s treatment plan.
“Finding specialists who are taking new patients is difficult in general, but finding specialists who accept new patients from the correctional system is especially hard,” says Delaware Department of Corrections Bureau Chief Marc Richman. “Since we are obligated to provide care of at least a community standard, we often end up sending offender patients long distances for treatment. With two correctional officers managing the transport, each transport is quite expensive.”
Data from previous CeCN programs in a community health setting shows that only 31 percent of e-consults necessitated a face-to-face visit with a specialist. The rest of the time, the primary care physician was able to handle treatment with the specialist’s guidance. Prior to implementing e-consults earlier this year, Delaware DOC performed 2500-2700 medical moves a year at a cost of $800,000 – $1,000,000. “Lowering that number will result in significant savings,” says Richman.
“The idea that drives CeCN is to move knowledge, not patients,” says Daren Anderson, Director of Community Health Center’s Weitzman Institute, which oversees CeCN. “It’s hard to imagine a setting where this idea makes more sense than the correctional system.”
“In vulnerable populations, we see that e-consults lead to more timely care and better health outcomes because the majority of the time, care can be delivered without the patient locating or scheduling a specialist,” says Kevin Massey, who oversees CeCN as Business and Product Development Leader at the Weitzman Institute. “When offenders re-enter society, they often receive their medical care at community health centers. It creates less of a burden on our health systems if these individuals are as healthy as they can be going into this transition.”
Dr. Herman Ellis, Chief Physician Executive at Connections Community Support Programs says Community Health Center’s decades of experience providing underserved populations with world-class medical care was a major factor in choosing to work with CeCN for this project. “Their mission and track record lines up nicely with our goal to maximize services for our state’s most vulnerable citizens. We’re thrilled that CeCN provides a new tool to accomplish this in the correctional setting.”
About Community eConsult Network
Community eConsult Network delivers rapid response eConsults to primary care providers in every state and territory. CeCN is the only eConsult provider associated with a Federally Qualified Health Center, Community Health Center, Inc., which operates more than 200 sites throughout Connecticut, building a world-class primary health care system committed to caring for uninsured and underserved populations. Founded and operated by practicing clinicians, CeCN is an eConsult service supported by a network of specialists serving primary care providers across the country. These clinicians experienced first hand how difficult it is for the communities they serve to get specialty care. Timely access to specialty care for patients is limited, especially in rural areas and underserved communities. CeCN was created to offer an affordable eConsult solution that doesn’t require additional technology or software.