L.A. Care’s eConsult Program Reaches Milestone of 15,000 Electronic Consultations

Nation’s Largest Publicly Operated Health Plan Deploys New Telehealth System that Improves Patient Access to Specialty Care

LOS ANGELES – L.A. Care Health Plan, the nation’s largest publicly operated health plan, announces that for its eConsult telehealth program, more than 15,000 “eConsults”, which are electronic consultations between primary care providers (PCP) and specialists, have been initiated.  The program is the largest rollout of its type in the nation, used by 1,300 PCPs in 108 community clinic/health center sites across L.A. County.  L.A. Care plans to expand the program to an additional 76 sites throughout 2013 to serve close to one million low-income individuals and families.  Fourteen different types of specialist physicians are available to review eConsults from PCPs. 

“We are pleased to see that eConsult is strengthening the collaborative relationships between PCPs and specialists for the benefit of patients,” says Mary Franz, Executive Director of HITEC-LA and Health IT for L.A. Care. “Utilizing eConsult can help community clinics and health centers make greater strides towards the triple aim of improving clinical quality, lowering costs, and enhancing the patient care experience.”

The web-based eConsult system enables PCPs and specialists to securely share health information and discuss patient care, with the goal of providing the right treatment at the best place in the shortest time.  The program is composed of the second largest public health care delivery system in the nation, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS), and one of the largest safety net clinic associations in the state, Health Care L.A. Independent Physicians Association (HCLA).  Also playing central leadership roles are MedPOINT Management and Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles CountyL.A. Care, provides major funding and management.

“I think eConsult has the potential to use a new technology to re-create an old value: a medical community collaborating to benefit the care of individual patients,” says Dr. Bruce Greenfield, Medical Director of HCLA.  “One of the common complaints we hear from patients today is:  ‘Don't you doctors ever talk to each other?’  With eConsult, we do talk to each other again, and the patient benefits. The result: improved coordination of care, more respect of patient's time, enhanced utilization of specialty resources, and a more informed, up-to-date, and interactive physician group.”

“The fact that in each of these 15,000 situations, a PCP and a specialist were able to rapidly discuss the clinical needs of the patient and determine the best next steps is one of the primary outcomes we seek in evaluating the impact of eConsult,” says Dr. Paul Giboney, Director of Specialty Care for DHS.

eConsult reflects L.A. Care’s commitment to providing access to quality health care for low-income and vulnerable residents throughout the county.  The safety net, the system that provides care to the poor and uninsured is overwhelmed with the volume of patients needing access to specialty care.  eConsult aims to help ease this situation using new telehealth technologies.

“This represents an exciting milestone in the effective delivery of specialty services to our patients,” says Dr. Giboney.  “We are grateful to our partners at L.A. Care for their sponsorship of the first 18 months of eConsult work.  We also appreciate our committed specialty reviewers whose response to the initial request for assistance has averaged less than two days.”

For more information on eConsult, visit www.econsultla.com.

About L.A. Care

L.A. Care Health Plan (Local Initiative Health Authority of Los Angeles County) is a publicly operated entity and community-accountable health plan serving residents of Los Angeles County through a variety of programs including Medi-Cal, Healthy Families, L.A. Care’s Healthy Kids, and L.A. Care Health Plan Medicare Advantage HMO SNP. L.A. Care is a leader in developing new programs through innovative partnerships designed to provide health coverage to vulnerable populations and to support the safety net. With over one million members, L.A. Care is the nation’s largest publicly operated health plan.  Visit www.lacare.org.