Short for “electronic consultation,” eConsult is a virtual care process that enables Primary Care Providers (PCPs) to message Specialists regarding patient care and the need for specialty referral. A secure web-based application facilitates this message exchange, allowing specialists to respond, usually within a day, to PCPs’ questions. Through this PCP-Specialist dialog, all patients gain virtual access to specialty care and can obtain referrals in a quicker, more efficient manner.
In July 2020, IEHP onboarded 134 board-certified specialist physicians to its network through HubMD, a virtual care multi-specialty medical group, to increase access to specialty care. The group covers over 20 specialties and services.
“We hand select smart, kind, and brave specialists who are dedicated to our mission,” said CEO of HubMD medical group Dr. Stanley Frencher Jr. “We are humbled with the confidence and trust IEHP has placed in our partnership to provide eConsult services in the Inland Empire.”
With an increase in COVID-19 cases and new stay-at-home orders, carefully determining the necessity for an in-person visit to a specialist is critical. On average, 19% of eConsults resolve with no need for an in-person visit, saving patients travel time and reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19, as well as freeing up appointment slots and reducing wait times for patients who need specialty care.
“As the governing bodies, businesses, and healthcare facilities of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties are mitigating the impacts of coronavirus on the community, each is considering the most effective means of slowing transfer of the virus,” said Curt Hagman, Chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors and Fourth District Supervisor. “Telehealth solutions are offering us an opportunity to do exactly that, by allowing for remote patient care and reducing instances of physicians’ and patients’ unnecessary exposure to the virus.”
HubMD specialists will now answer eConsults from 530+ primary care physicians across 93 clinic locations. The Multi-County eConsult Initiative (MCeI) program is a collaboration between the Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP), Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC), and Riverside University Health System (RUHS).
While IEHP onboarded HubMD virtual specialists in July, they also reached a milestone of 60,000 eConsults between primary care and specialist physicians since the start of the program.
An evaluation of IEHP’s e-consult initiative published in Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management (JCOM) on July 30th demonstrated that the pandemic drove physicians to make better decisions about referrals and care coordination. The research paper illustrates physicians’ increased interest in providing better and timely access to specialty care during COVID-19. When the pandemic subsides, eConsults will continue to reduce unnecessary in-person specialist visits and make appointments available earlier for patients who genuinely need in-person specialty care. This will improve appropriate access to care for everyone and reduce unnecessary costs to the healthcare system at large.
“Virtual care initiatives like eConsult help provide an additional layer of resources for our members and providers,” said IEHP Chief Executive Officer, Jarrod McNaughton. “These expansions allow us to act on our commitment to improve quality and accessibility of healthcare for all, even during the most challenging of times.”
IEHP, Inland Empire Health Plan, is one of the top 10 largest Medicaid health plans and the largest not-for-profit Medicare-Medicaid plan in the country. With a network of more than 6,400 Providers and more than 2,000 employees, IEHP serves more than 1.2 million residents in Riverside and San Bernardino counties who are enrolled in Medicaid or Cal MediConnect Plan (Medicare-Medicaid Plan). Through a dynamic partnership with Providers and Community, award-winning service and innovative products, IEHP is fully committed to advocating for our Members and providing them with quality, accessible and wellness-based health care services.
For more information, please visit http://www.iehp.org.
About HubMD P.C.
HubMD P.C. is a multi-specialty virtual care medical group that provides virtual care and telehealth services. HubMD’s primary mission lies in improving access to quality care for vulnerable patients—those who are geographically isolated in rural communities, socially isolated in correctional facilities, as well as economically disadvantaged in often racially and ethnically segregated communities. HubMD’s board-certified specialists offer expertise to primary care physicians and patients in programs like eConsult and VideoConsults. HubMD’s partners include WISE Healthcare, a virtual care services provider, and with the IEHP-selected eConsult vendor, SafetyNet Connect (SNC).
For more information, please visit http://www.HubMD.org.