Better Primary Care with Electronic Specialty Consults

“Three things make me happy,” said Ghassan Jamaleddine, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Alameda Health System (AHS) at a recent gathering in Oakland. “One, connecting with a stranger; two, helping someone I don’t know; three, learning.”  A partnership between AHS specialists and Community Health Center Network (CHCN) health centers has brought Dr. Jamaleddine such happiness.

AHS and CHCN providers convened at the Impact HUB in Oakland on June 8th to celebrate the success and new relationships born of a specialty consult partnership.  Using the RubiconMD platform from any device, CHCN primary care providers (PCPs) now easily consult with AHS and other specialists, better caring for patients and reducing costs.  The partnership has improved care coordination between PCPs and specialists, enhanced patient experience and a reduced unnecessary specialist and ER visits.

Gil Addo, CEO of RubiconMD, described the goal of the e-consult partnership as a movement toward democratizing medical expertise.  He expressed gratitude to CHCN for taking a chance on RubiconMD. The result, he says, is a partnership of, “primary care, managed care and a health system – the holy grail of an e-consult system.”

Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan thanked providers for their role in care and improved coordination of care and reiterated the County’s commitment to community health centers, to Medi-Cal and care for immigrant communities. “What keeps me going everyday are the values of the people in the East Bay to make better health for our patients,” said Chan. The specialty e-consult partnership illustrates that region-wide commitment.

Primary care and specialist pairs took to the stage to outline specific cases where a CHCN health center provider connected with AHS specialist. The expert exchange, along with posters with case descriptions, allowed providers and supporters an opportunity to “geek out,” according to CHCN Chief Medical Officer Dr. Laura Miller. The specialty e-consult partnership, in her words, is “an amazing system of mission-aligned partners that helps knit together PCPs and specialists.”

RubiconMD offers a secure, web-based platform and smartphone application for PCPs to submit specialty consultations prior to referring a patient to a specialty visit.  By using the tool, PCPs engage in an informal peer-to-peer discussion with specialists in order to improve specialty referrals. Providers can upload documents, labs, test, clinical notes and images from the electronic health record to the RubiconMD platform for quick consultation. RubiconMD offers 105 specialty types including high-demand dermatology, cardiology and pediatric specialists.  The average specialist response time is between 2.5 and 4 hours, a significant improvement on specialty appointment wait times of two weeks or more.