eConsult Featured in AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange

Article Summary

L.A. Care Health Plan (a public health plan serving Medicaid beneficiaries) developed a Web-based software platform called eConsult that enables primary care physicians at federally qualified health centers to consult electronically with "specialist reviewers" before referring patients to a specialist. The primary care doctor provides relevant information about the patient's condition, including medical records and photographs, and can ask questions about treatment options. The specialist reviewer responds (typically within 48 hours), answering the doctor's questions and, if necessary, seeking additional information. After one or more such exchanges, the specialist reviewer recommends whether a specialty visit is needed. The electronic consultation system has reduced unnecessary specialty referrals, with a meaningful percentage of cases being resolved without a face-to-face visit. As a result, wait times for appointments have fallen for those who do need to see a specialist.

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