Results of Inland Empire Health Plan’s (IEHP) study on the multi-county eConsult initiative’s (MCeI) utilization of the Converge telehealth platform from Safety Net Connect (SNC), a leading provider of innovative healthcare technology solutions, reveals a reduction in referrals for in-person specialist visits, and an increase in provision of “virtual care,” using electronic consultations (eConsults) between primary and specialty care physicians.
An analysis of data collected from the MCeI before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, published in the July 2020 Issue of the Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management, showed that on average 19% of eConsult visits met patient needs and an in-person visit was not needed; Before the pandemic only 11% were achieving this result. The analysis supports the use of Converge to create collaborative, coordinated treatment plans (without the need for an in-person visit). This saves patients travel time, reduces risk of COVID-19 exposure for patients and physicians, and reduces specialty care wait times. Overall, these findings represent an opportunity to reduce unnecessary specialty visits, during and beyond the pandemic – increasing the scheduling capacity of specialists to see patients who require in-person care.
“At IEHP, increasing access to care is top priority,” explained Susie White, IEHP Chief Operations Officer. “MCeI is just one example of how we are embracing innovative technologies that can change the way we deliver care – while maintaining the highest level of quality and safety for our members and providers.”
MCeI, a collaborative between IEHP, Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, and Riverside University Health System, aims at improving access to specialty care for the safety-net population across San Bernardino and Riverside counties. MCeI is delivered using SNC’s “Converge” telehealth platform that integrates eReferral, eConsult and Televisit technologies into a single virtual care solution. Initially launched in 2018, following a competitive selection process, MCeI has grown rapidly with more than 600 physicians at 86 IEHP clinics in rural and urban settings. These physicians all currently use Converge to access virtual specialist care across 38 specialties – as well as to obtain timely appointments for in-person specialty care when necessary. To date, SNC’s Converge platform has enabled over 60,000 eConsults and eReferral visits.
“When we created Converge to increase health equity and access to care – we didn’t envision the role it would someday play in reducing patient or provider exposure during a pandemic,” shared Chris Cruttenden, President of SNC. “Honestly, we are just honored to be able to help support the critical work of all of the providers within the Multi-County eConsult Initiative.”
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, visit iehp.org.
About Safety Net Connect
With a mission to improve health equity, Safety Net Connect (SNC) has been the leading creator of innovative health care technology, making it easier for providers and institutions to improve quality, streamline care coordination, promote evidence-based practices, and increase access to care. Since 2009, SNC has helped public and private health care organizations across the nation, successfully reach millions of low-income, underserved individuals with affordable, effective patient-centered care. For more information, please visit www.safetynetconnect.com.