eConsults Go Live at UW Health

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Madison, Wisconsin - UW Health recently became one of only five academic medical centers nationwide to implement electronic consults ("eConsults") as part of a three-year project, funded by the federal Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.


Using eConsults, a primary care physician/provider can communicate with a specialist for advice regarding a patient's care through In Basket messages.


An eConsult order can be placed via Order Entry or a SmartSet.


eConsults went live on Dec. 8 with the first four specialties:

  • Endocrinology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Hematology
  • Neurology

One of the first eConsults involved a request from Nicole Weathers, MD, to endocrinologist Jennifer L. Poehls, MD, regarding a patient with severe hypothyroidism. Dr. Weathers asked if additional studies or imaging were needed based on her labs and initial ultrasound. By the next morning, Dr. Poehls had reviewed the patient’s results and agreed that the medication was the best course of action and no further studies or imaging were needed.


In another instance, Ellen Barbouche, MD, requested an eConsult from neurologist Anne Weiss, DO, regarding a patient's abnormal imaging study. Dr. Weiss reviewed the patient's history, which included migraines, and MRI findings and agreed that medication was the best treatment option. "I hope the use of eConsults becomes well-accepted," says Dr. Weiss.


This new model of care has been shown to significantly improve quality while reducing the costs and fragmentation of medical care.


"We expect the eConsult and the enhanced referral system to improve communication between primary and specialty care providers," says Jason Dambach, MD. "By improving communication we hope to provide more timely and efficient care for patients in the UW Health system."


Additional specialties will be added in phases. At full implementation, impacted areas will include all primary care clinics, all medical specialties, neurology and three surgical specialties: orthopedics, dermatology and urology, and potentially others.


Launch of e-Consults: By the Numbers


61 eConsults

  • Endocrinology: 18
  • Gastroenterology: 10
  • Hematology: 19
  • Neurology: 14
  • Involving 34 providers
  • Spanning 20 clinic sites
  • Average response time: 28 hours (goal: 72 hours)

Date Published: 01/07/2015

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