Telehealth Platform Makes It Easier for Patients to Access Specialty Consults and Care
Hartford, Conn., January 3, 2018: Harvard Pilgrim Health Care has awarded grants in amounts totaling $32,000 to the Community eConsult Network (CeCN) to further the use of electronic specialty consults (eConsults) 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, while 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.
Harvard Pilgrim has granted $20,000 to support a twelve-month eConsult pilot being conducted at Value Care Alliance (VCA) member outpatient clinics, which began with Middlesex Hospital Primary Care in Middletown, Conn. last 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.
A grant of $12,000 will enable CeCN to work with the leadership and clinical staff of Community Medical Group (CMG) to implement a full-scope eConsult referral process available to all 400 primary care physician members of CMG’s Independent Practice Association (IPA). CMG physicians practice across the greater New Haven, Shoreline and Fairfield county areas in 33 cities and towns. Similar to the pilot with VCA, a custom, easy to implement program will be developed to provide CMG members access to eConsults in a variety of specialties.
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 the eConsult 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.”
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.