LOS ANGELES — Nov. 11, 2009 — SynerMed, Inc., the largest Medicaid managed service organization (MSO) in the country, in collaboration with L.A. Care Health Plan, the nation’s largest public health plan, announced today the launch of an e-consult pilot program. The program aims to increase collaboration between primary care physicians and specialists to improve the delivery of quality patient care. This partnership is one of the many health information technology projects that support L.A. Care’s primary care physicians in the implementation of telemedicine as outlined in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act), of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Approximately 150 high volume L.A. Care primary care physicians are eligible to participate in this pilot program, which allows them to consult electronically with certain specialists using SynerMed’s secure Web portal, SynerMedConnect. If this program proves successful, it may be made available to a larger group of L.A. Care’s provider network.
“L.A. Care believes that health information technology that improves health outcomes and efficiency should be available to all,” said Dr. Elaine Batchlor Chief Medical Officer at L.A. Care Health Plan. “As America’s largest public health plan, we are committed to ensuring that L.A. County’s traditional and safety net providers and patients in underserved communities are not left behind.”
At the cutting edge of health care delivery, e-consults are designed to increase the efficiency of care for patients. The specialty referral and appointment process for patients – especially in those areas with limited access to specialty care – has traditionally taken up to several months. However, e-consults increase both collaboration regarding a patient’s care and the speed with which a patient’s care is delivered, often reducing the specialty referral process to a few days.
“The exchange of medical information and data is critical to the rapid and effective delivery of quality patient care,” said Darren McLachlan, Director of Finance and Information Technology of SynerMed, Inc.
“E-consults create an important synergy between medicine and technology; one that increases access for patients while decreasing the time needed to access care.”
As the original accountable care organization (ACO), SynerMed organizes groups of physicians and holds them responsible for the quality and cost of care for their beneficiaries. E-consults and other health information exchange tools then connect these physicians and promote access and collaboration in patient care.
“SynerMed’s organizational structure and services complement L.A. Care’s vast experience in assisting their primary care network providers with the implementation of health information technology,” said James P. Mason, president and COO of SynerMed, Inc. “This partnership will create important advances for traditional and safety net providers in Los Angeles County.”
L.A. Care is a leader in health information technology, providing funding and assistance to small and solo private physicians, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) and community-based clinics throughout Los Angeles County to implement of health information technologies such as Electronic Health Records (EHRs), disease and immunization registries, web-based consulting and e-prescribing systems.
“We are working with our providers to learn how we can utilize technology to deliver quality and efficient care seamlessly for patients,” stated Dr. Alexander Li, Medical Director at L.A. Care Health Plan, who contributed to the development and implementation of e-consult at L.A. Care Health Plan.
“By partnering with SynerMed, we can begin to provide a comprehensive array of services and technical assistance to meet the goals of the HITECH Act for safety net primary care providers in Los Angeles County,” said Sajid Ahmed, Health Information Technology Program Director at L.A. Care Health Plan.
About L.A. Care
L.A. Care Health Plan (Local Initiative Health Authority of Los Angeles County) is a public entity and community-accountable health plan serving residents of Los Angeles County through a variety of programs including Medi-Cal, Healthy Families, L.A. Care’s Healthy Kids, and L.A. Care’s Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plan. L.A. Care is a leader in developing new programs through innovative partnerships designed to provide health coverage to vulnerable populations and to support the safety net. With nearly 800,000 members, L.A. Care is the nation’s largest public health plan. For more information, please visit www.lacare.org.