Parkland Deploys Telemedicine to Shorten Specialty Care Wait Times

An e-Consult program at Parkland Health & Hospital System is helping cut into what had become a growing waiting list for gastroenterology (GI) patients.

With more than 400 referrals a month coming in, wait times had reached at least six months in 2016. Within six months of instituting the e-Consult program in August of that year, 45 percent of GI consultations were taking place digitally.

“Often the reason for referral is very simple and requires only a review of data in the patient’s medical chart,” said Dr. Christian Mayorga, clinical chief of digestive and liver diseases and senior medical director of medical specialty services at Parkland, in a statement. “For example, a primary care doctor may want to verify whether it’s safe to start a patient with fatty liver disease on a cholesterol-lowering drug. Rather than making the patient wait three to four months for a GI clinic appointment, a specialist could answer the question almost immediately with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response via an e-Consult.”

The e-Consult program allowed Parkland to expand access and see patients in a more timely fashion while working within the parameters of limited resources. The GI team and IT experts collaborated on the project.

Parkland guarantees a three-business-day turnaround on e-Consults.

“The program has enabled us to provide faster answers for patients about their care, free up clinic slots for patients needing in-person visits, and improve provider satisfaction,” Mayorga said.