Health Affairs: CHC, Inc. eConsult program saved on specialty care and improved access

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This month’s Health Affairs includes a study on the effectiveness of eConsults for Medicaid members needing specialty care. Specialty referrals are rising, especially for Medicaid members, who often experience challenges getting that care. In response to this barrier for their patients, in 2011 Connecticut’s CHC, Inc. created a system to link primary and specialty care providers. Previous research found eConsult programs improve access to specialty care, especially for Medicaid members. The new multi-state analysis found that eConsults for just four specialties reduced per member per month specialty costs by $84; savings were highest for orthopedic care. The four specialties were chosen based on highest demand and longest wait times. The authors predict that eConsults could ease barriers to care for members and ease pressure on state Medicaid budgets.