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Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Grant Supports Weitzman Institute Community eConsult Network Pilot in CT

TELEHEALTH PLATFORM MAKES IT EASIER FOR PATIENTS TO ACCESS SPECIALTY CONSULTS AND CARE

Hartford, Conn., November 16, 2017: Harvard Pilgrim Health Care has awarded a $20,000 grant to the Community eConsult Network to test the use of electronic specialty consults (eConsults) at three health centers in Connecticut. The electronic consults will make it easier for patients to access specialty consults and care by providing their primary care providers with quick access to a network of board-certified specialists. The specialists can provide medical opinions through a secure telehealth platform.

A study by the Weitzman Institute, the research and innovation arm of Community Health Center, Inc., demonstrated significant value from eConsults. Over the past five years, between 60-90 percent of specialty consults were resolved by eConsults in two days or less. eConsults often eliminated the need for unnecessary visits to specialty providers and related expenses of travel, time off from work and child care. The research demonstrated that eConsults are safe and effective, also reducing emergency room utilization, likely due to reduced time to provide appropriate treatment. More than 14 specialties are currently available through CeCN, including: Cardiology, Dermatology, Gastroenterology, Pediatric Cardiology, Orthopedics and Pain Management.

The Harvard Pilgrim grant supports a twelve-month eConsult pilot conducted at Value Care Alliance (VCA) member outpatient clinics, beginning with Middlesex Hospital Primary Care in Middletown this month. Data collected through the pilot will be evaluated to determine efficiency and suitability and a plan to implement eConsults at all VCA member organizations will follow. The ultimate goal is to provide better specialty care for VCA patients, including special populations such as those with addiction/behavioral health problems, or chronic pain, as well as to reduce the cost of care and enhance patient and primary care provider satisfaction.

According to Daren Anderson, MD, Director, Weitzman Institute, “Our work has clearly shown what a significant difference eConsults can make for primary care providers and their patients. They help to ensure that patients get access to the best care quickly and efficiently. Harvard Pilgrim is helping us to spread this work across Connecticut, helping build a stronger and more effective primary care system.”

“The goal of this pilot program is to make it easier for patients to get the care they need by helping their primary care physicians obtain timely specialty consultations,” said Harvard Pilgrim’s Connecticut Medical Director Russell Munson, MD.  “In many cases, it will eliminate the need for additional appointments as well as time and travel by using technology to access prompt, high quality specialty care for patients. eConsults will help with access to specialist medical opinions, prescribing, ordering tests and the maintenance of patient medical records, bringing ease and efficiency to patients.”

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About Harvard Pilgrim Health Care

Harvard Pilgrim and its family of companies provide health benefit plans, programs and services to more than 3 million customers in New England and beyond. A leading not-for-profit health services company, we guide our members –  and the communities we serve – to better health.    

Founded by doctors nearly 50 years ago, we’re building on our legacy. In partnership with our expansive network of doctors and hospitals, we’re improving health outcomes and lowering costs through clinical quality and innovative care management.   

Our commitment to the communities we serve is driven by the passion of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation. Through its work, low- and moderate-income families are gaining greater access to fresh, affordable food — a cornerstone to better health and well-being.

To learn more about Harvard Pilgrim, visit harvardpilgrim.org.

About The Weitzman Institute

The Weitzman Institute is the research and innovation arm of Community Health Center, Inc., dedicated to inspiring primary care innovation and improving health outcomes for the medically underserved.  With its expertise in quality improvement, the Weitzman Institute is partnering with organizations around the globe to transform the primary care delivery system through research, training and education.  For more information, visit www.weitzmaninstitute.org

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