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Press Releases

NYC Health + Hospitals Expands Specialty Referral System, eConsult, Across the Public Health System

Primary care providers can now refer patients for specialty care throughout the public health system, streamlining the process for patients, limiting wait times for appointments, and increasing access to care

Since its launch in 2016, providers have made over 160,000 referrals through the public hospitals' eConsult system

Sep 24, 2019

New York, NY

NYC Health + Hospitals today announced the expansion of its eConsult system, a tool that makes it easier for primary care providers and specialists to communicate about patients. Primary care providers can now refer patients for specialty care throughout the system, further streamlining the process for patients, limiting wait time for appointments, and overall increasing access to expert care. The eConsult system makes the referral process easier and creates a new mechanism to facilitate provider-to-provider communication, with the principal benefit of improving access to specialist expertise for patients. The interfacility eConsult was piloted in Bronx facilities beginning in August 2019. Since its launch in 2016, providers have made over 160,000 referrals through the public hospitals’ eConsult system, which is integrated through NYC Health + Hospitals’ electronic health record systems.

“The eConsult expansion reflects NYC Health + Hospitals’ transformation to an integrated health system, offering a more seamless experience for patients,” said Jesse Singer, DO, MPH, Senior Assistant Vice President of Care Models and Analytics within the Office of Population Health at NYC Health + Hospitals. “Part of keeping New Yorkers healthy includes ensuring they have the most comprehensive, streamlined access to expert care, and our recent expansion of eConsult helps us accomplish this.”

“Thanks to the hard work of the dedicated teams at our facilities, we are expanding the benefits of eConsult and taking the next steps to further improve access to specialty care across our system,” said Hannah Byrnes-Enoch, MPH, Director of Specialty Care Transformation within the Office of Population Health at NYC Health + Hospitals.

“Patients shouldn’t have to struggle with referral processes in order to see specialists,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried. “Expansion of eConsult will speed up the process and improve access to necessary care for patients in the NYC Health + Hospitals system. The Bronx pilot program shows the system works, and I applaud the public health system for bringing it city-wide to their whole system.”

eConsult is part of the public health system’s ongoing transformation efforts to improve quality and value. Through the tool, primary care providers and specialists can communicate and co-manage patients when appropriate. The system also helps physicians more efficiently connect patients to specialty care when needed. When a primary care provider’s patient has a health concern that would typically be treated by a specialist, the primary care provider can send a message through the system and expect a quick response from the specialist regarding the next steps for the patient as well as timely referral scheduling when needed. In some cases, the patient has already gone for necessary lab or imaging testing before the first appointment with the specialist, therefore eliminating at least one appointment in the process.

Prior to the expansion, the eConsult system reviewed and managed upwards of 15,000 referrals per month throughout facilities, a number that’s expected to go up. A total of 167 NYC Health + Hospitals specialty clinics can be accessed through the interfacility eConsult expansion. Gastroenterologists are the most common specialty referral.

A breakdown of the referrals from the first three years of eConsult gives a sense of its impact:

  • 19,876 were triaged to receive enhanced care in the primary care setting
  • 117,816 were triaged to receive a routine specialty clinic appointments
  • 18,032 were triaged to receive a higher urgency specialty clinic appointment

Over this period, at least one eConsult referral was submitted by 9,159 different providers.