What is the Multi-County eConsult Initiative?

MCEI is a partnership between Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP), Arrowhead
Regional Medical Center (ARMC) and Riverside University Health System (RUHS) to improve access to care for the Safety-Net population in San
Bernardino and Riverside counties. IEHP is sponsoring the initiative to design, implement and evaluate eConsult at more than 150 clinic sites with the ultimate goal of 100% participation from providers throughout both counties.

What is eConsult?

eConsult is a care coordination process that allows primary care providers (PCPs) to directly connect with specialists (SPCs) to securely communicate, share health information, and provide continuity of specialty care. eConsult provides referring physicians and nurse practitioners the opportunity to make an informed decision when scheduling specialty care appointments. Through a private and secure system, referring providers can ask a specialist a clinical question about their patient and receive advice, electronically. This can be a simple question (e.g., about a drug dosage) or a more complex question following an initial assessment (e.g. asking for a virtual dermatology assessment and providing images of the patient). eConsult platforms are ultimately a tool to facilitate provider-to- provider interactions. These virtual interactions are crucial to the success of reducing patient visit wait times, unnecessary appointments, and no-shows. It is not an expansion of health care services, just another tool providers have at their disposal to improve their availability and the level of care that is provided.

What are the benefits of using eConsult?

eConsult addresses the common barrier of access to specialists for patients by improving coordinated care between PCPs and specialists. There are many features of eConsult that benefit both care providers and the patient. eConsult, in its various forms, has reached over a dozen academic medical centers, over a million primary care providers and hundreds of thousands of patients.

Overall documented impact includes:

  • Access: Patients arrive at specialty appointments with the appropriate work-up and shorter wait times.
  • Connect: eConsult reduces unnecessary referrals to specialists and focuses treatment for patients on a priority basis. Specialists receive clear clinical questions, and related documentation that provides more-efficient referrals.
  • Inform: eConsult is a platform for specialists to exchange educational material with referring clinicians, providing "just-in-time" education, which is applied right away. This allows the requesting clinician to remain the main contact for their patients. Primary care physicians receive timely input and expertise from specialists
  • Value: Reduces no show rates by increasing productivity of an appointment interaction by ensuring diagnostic workups are complete. Primary care physicians and specialists utilize an interdisciplinary approach though establishment of common expectations before and after a referral has been made. The quality of care provided at the Institutional level improves.

What specialists will be involved?

We will be working with RUHS, ARMC and IEHP to ensure consistency and breadth of the specialty reviewer network for all specialties. We have identified dedicated specialty reviewers who are vital components of the implementation of eConsult. Commitment from the specialist is the heart of the success for the MCeI program. As the program expands additional specialists will be brought on to help manage the volume of eConsults.

What are the expected volumes of eConsult?

eConsult will replace referral processes and systems for each specialty that goes live on eConsult. Initial volumes of eConsults will be based on the number of referring sites live on eConsult platform.