PCHC Now Offering eConsults for Specialty Care

PCHC is pleased to announce the addition of specialty econsults to its list of services at most of its primary care locations. The project is in collaboration with Community Health Centers, Inc. headquartered in Middletown, CT, who launched an eConsult network for specialty care as part of the New England eConsult Network (NEECN).

eConsults are clinical consultations between a primary care provider (PCP) and a specialist conveyed electronically via a web-based, HIPAA compliant communications system developed by Safety Net Connect. This New England network came out of a 2-year randomized pilot that CHC, UConn and the Weitzman Institute recently completed for cardiology. An evaluation of the 2-year randomized pilot showed that quality of care was maintained or enhanced while simultaneously achieving substantial cost savings. Most importantly, 69% of the eConsult referrals were resolved without the need for a face-to-face visit with specialists, ultimately delivering better health care services while reducing costs.

“It is wonderful as a primary care provider to have the ability to communicate back and forth with specialists directly, via the eConsult platform. While patients often need to be seen face to face, there are many instances when a primary care provider just needs a specialist to weigh in on a lab result or has a quick question about management,” explained Dr. Daren Anderson, Director of the Weitzman Institute and VP/Chief Quality Officer of Community Health Center, Inc. “Now we can reserve those face to face visits for the patients who really need them, and use eConsults for those that don’t. We get the answer much more quickly and can get the patients the treatment they need more quickly as well.”

Noah Nesin, MD, PCHC’s Chief Medical Officer, states “This exciting innovation has the potential to dramatically and positively impact quality, costs and patient experience, as well as improving access to face to face specialty consults when they are truly necessary. PCHC is very pleased to be partnered with NEECN in this endeavor.”

Using built-in specialty-specific referral guidelines and decision support, PCPs submit their questions or concerns through the eConsult system along with other relevant information such as chart notes, lab and imaging results. Participating specialists at The University of Connecticut Health Center review and respond with advice regarding diagnosis, treatment, and management for each case. An eConsult may result in a request to send the patient to see the specialist or to order certain tests, but in many cases the eConsults provide the PCP with the necessary recommendation(s) to manage the patient in the primary care setting with no need for a face to face consult. Each of these cases results in improved efficiency and patient care. Target response time for eConsults is within two business days of the eConsult request.