Online Consultations Help Golden Valley Health Center Patients Get Access to Specialists.
One year and one innovative program later, patients in California’s Central Valley — who previously had difficulty accessing healthcare — are now surmounting these and other challenges. Because the area is remote, and there are fewer specialists available, many in the Central Valley have trouble scheduling appointments with and traveling to see specialty physicians. In discussing specialist access with Golden Valley Health Center (GVHC) physicians, they commented that half of their patients have transportation issues, and it can sometimes take up to six months to see a specialist.
Working with GHVC primary care physicians (PCPs), Sequoia Health, an agilon health platform partnership, contracted with AristaMD to offer eConsults, an online provider-to-provider consultation service. PCPs who have patients requiring the evaluation of a specialist are assisted through structured and automatic EHR workflows which package all necessary notes, test results and other supporting materials for an AristaMD consulting specialist. After the consulting specialist makes recommendations, which are delivered back to the PCP through their EHR, the PCP takes steps to get the patient the treatment he/she needs, whether this involves further care by the PCP or a referral to a local specialist or other healthcare providers.
Now, GVHC patients receive the benefits of appropriate specialist input without requiring additional visits to the specialist’s office. This additional counsel is provided through their trusted primary care physician. The eConsult program offers expertise in over 40 specialties. Before eConsults, GVHC physicians referred patients for specialist services which could have been avoided.
One year later, all GVHC PCPs have taken advantage of the program, participating in a total of 753 eConsults.
One physician who has benefitted from eConsults is GHVC pediatrician Emilie De Ocampo, M.D.
“Patients face a lot of challenges in getting to see specialists for care, including transportation issues and the inability to take time off work for their, or their child’s, appointment,” she says. “Within 24 hours I have a detailed response back from a specialist based on my patient’s case. “Most of the time, it means the patient can avoid seeing the specialist all together.”
“eConsults involves significant cost savings for the patient,” adds Priti Golechha, M.D., Associate Chief Medical Officer for GHVC. “They are no longer required to spend money to travel to see a specialist only to find out that the condition could be handled by a PCP and closer to home. And an added benefit we discovered after rolling out the program, is that it gives our PCPs additional tools to help them practice at the fullest level of their scope. By using this high tech program, they have access to outstanding specialty physicians who help them provide value-based care to their patients.”