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E-Consults Help Patients Save Time & Money

The University of Virginia is one of six university medical centers to win a $7  million dollar grant from the federal government that should save patients time and money while providing better care.

When you go to your primary care doctor with a complaint, he or she might refer you to a specialist, but the University of Virginia Medical Center has another idea – one that could save time and money.  The E-Consult program allows family doctors who are part of UVA’s health sustem  to send a patient’s medical record along with a request for advice.

Mo Nadkarni is UVA’s chief of general internal medicine.

“There’s something that used to be called curbside consults, where you would stop a specialist in the hall and ask a question, and that’s really not the best way to take care of patients, so this ensures that the documentation is there, and the specialist has all the information necessary to make the response.”

He figures many visits to specialists could be avoided with this system.  UVA expects about 120 e-consults a month.  That will save specialists time, allow people who really need expert advice to get in more quickly, and allow those with fairly easy problems to get treatment at less cost.

“The nice thing for the patient is that there’s no charge.  Over time we’re hoping that insurance companies will reimburse specialists for the e-consult.”

In the mean time, the federal grant will ensure that specialists get some compensation.