The University of Virginia in Charlottesville has started pilot testing a new eConsults/eReferrals model on Epic's EMR platform.
UVA is one of five academic medical centers testing this new model, supported by a $7 million grant from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.
The pilot program seeks to use the Internet to more efficiently and effectively connect with specialists for immediate decision support and consultations.
For eConsults, primary care physicians can ask specialists quick questions about a patient, sending a message to the specialist through EpicCare. The specialist then can review the patient's medical history before making recommendations for next steps.
Primary care physicians use eReferrals for patients requiring a more detailed review by filling out a template including patient condition and medical history, which is then sent to the specialist. The specialist reviews the eReferral and determines if the patient requires an appointment.
"If you can answer the least complex questions using this model and reduce appointments by 10 percent, you can open up more appointments for patients who will truly benefit from face-to-face interactions with specialty physicians," said Chris Ghaemmaghami, MD, CMO of UVA.
The health system started testing the model this month in four specialties: endocrinology, cardiology, digestive health and neurology.
The pilot project was designed by the University of California San Francisco. The other four participating academic medical centers are Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., University of California, San Diego Medical Center, University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics in Iowa City and University of Wisconsin Hospitals & Clinics in Madison.