Some Connecticut Health Care Centers to Receive Medicaid Payment for Electronic Consultations

By Rosner, Cara | New Haven Register (New Haven, CT), March 24, 2016 | Go to article overview

Some Connecticut Health Care Centers to Receive Medicaid Payment for Electronic Consultations


Rosner, Cara, New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)


Medicaid will reimburse some health centers in the state for providing patients with access to medical specialists through electronic consultations, which some providers believe will increase low-income patients' access to care.

"The impact is potentially huge," said Dr. Daren Anderson, director of the Weitzman Institute, which is the research and quality improvement arm of Community Health Center Inc.

CHC is a Middletown-based network of 13 health centers that includes facilities in New Britain, Stamford, Norwalk, Clinton and Old Saybrook.

An e-consult enables a primary care doctor to contact a specialist -- for a second look at patient's echocardiogram, for instance -- and securely send part or all of a patient's medical records electronically. The specialist then replies to the primary care doctor within a few days (but more typically within just a few hours), reducing the need for a patient visit to the specialist.

The e-consult is a valuable tool, said Nicole Seagriff, CHC's Norwalk medical director and a nurse practitioner.

"It allows us to improve the care we give our patients," Seagriff said. "With really busy schedules and the array of illnesses we see, it's tremendously helpful to be able to quickly and efficiently collaborate with a specialist."

Anderson, who studied e-consults for about a year, said he found the process increased access to specialty care for underserved populations, reduced the need for in-person care, streamlined specialty referrals and had the potential to reduce emergency department visits. The study Anderson coauthored appears in the March/April issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

The study examined data from primary care clinicians who sought e- consults from cardiologists. It included 36 clinicians who referred 590 patients for e-consults. In 69 percent of cases, issues that warranted an e-consult were resolved without the patient having to visit a cardiologist, and those who received e-consults reported fewer emergency department visits in the following six months compared with those who did not have an e-consult, according to the study.

Spurred by his research, Anderson worked with the state Department of Social Services, which administers Connecticut's Medicaid program, to pursue the Medicaid reimbursement. …

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Some Connecticut Health Care Centers to Receive Medicaid Payment for Electronic Consultations
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