AristaMD, a digital health company that provides a proprietary eConsult solution to connect primary care providers (PCPs) with timely and documented specialist support, today provided insights and guidance to health systems, providers and payors on the application of eConsults during the COVID-19 pandemic. eConsults provide fast, efficient, HIPAA-compliant, and fully scalable access to specialists with a simple remote implementation.
First and foremost, guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should be regularly followed. Individuals should adhere to guidelines and avoid unnecessary exposure. High-risk immunocompromised and elderly individuals in particular should remain at home, be screened virtually, and only be seen in person if they are at high suspicion for COVID-19 and need potential hospital care and testing. The full resource guide can be found at the CDC website.
Patients with chronic conditions are not only at higher risk for complications arising from COVID-19, but they are also in need of ongoing support for these conditions, which can lead to poor outcomes if left unattended. These patients can frequently be supported with input from specialists in the form of eConsults. More than 40% of the U.S. population has one or more chronic conditions, accounting for 81% of hospital admissions, 91% of all prescriptions filled, and 76% of all physician visits. Additionally, patients with chronic conditions contributed to nearly 60% of all annual U.S. emergency department visits in 2017.
Alternative health care solutions must be implemented to deliver ongoing care amid this crisis in order to decrease the strain on the nation’s physical clinics, hospitals and staff. The U.S. is already facing a provider shortage, which will only be compounded as specialists are called to treat those with the virus, further exacerbating the problem and limiting access to others who need specialty care. More than a third of patients are referred to a specialist each year, and eConsults are an effective way to address these referrals without requiring that the patient be seen face-to-face.
- eConsults are a tool to continue delivering specialty care to patients remotely to:
- Increase specialist capacity to aid in this crisis;
- Decrease the use of physical space on-site; and
- Ensure non-respiratory cases are attended to in a timely manner, and not impacting emergency departments, which would further exacerbate the strain on the healthcare system.
- Patients still have specialty care needs. Delaying treatment will only lead to later admissions and emergency department visits.
- The ability to more efficiently coordinate and deliver specialty-informed care will be critical towards freeing up the higher acuity settings for those who need it most during this crisis.
- The only way to match specialist supply with demand is to enable widespread adoption of all solutions that help deliver care remotely.
How eConsults Should be Leveraged During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond:
- PCPs collaborate on care plans with specialists through an asynchronous communication on a secure web-based platform for non-urgent, non-procedural cases (more than 70 specialties, including infectious disease).
- All applicable information that would be helpful for a specialist to consider is transmitted through the portal, including clinical notes, lab results and images.
- eConsults can be used following an in-person or telehealth video/phone visit.
- More than 70% of cases typically result in PCPs obtaining the information they need to immediately treat the patient, avoiding the need for a face-to-face visit. Treatment recommendations may include medication management or in-home self-care regimens.
- Rural providers: the asynchronous nature of eConsults circumvents burdensome traditional telehealth bandwidth requirements.
- AristaMD provides the option to use on-demand specialists to answer cases, or health systems can utilize their own providers to answer cases.
To bring eConsults to your practice, health system or members, visit aristamd.com/contact.