Alethea’s mission is to provide equitable access to healthcare for everyone. Through eConsultation, Alethea can help Physicians provide more timely care while improving patient outcomes.
We have recently completed an impact assessment to gain a better understanding of Alethea’s benefit to patient care in Alberta. The key outcomes of this assessment, and the successful implementation of Alethea’s eConsultation service are seen through two main metrics:
Our impact is described below:
Reducing Unnecessary Referrals
Family Physicians using Alethea gain more control and efficiency while caring for their patients. Through Alethea’s rapid access to Specialist advice, traditional referral pathways are avoided for 73% of patients. We found that the number of unnecessary referrals decreased by 13%, with 10% of patients not needing to see a specialist and 3% being redirected to a different specialist. Additionally 42% of patients were treated at the primary point of care without having to wait to visit a specialist. Finally, eConsults allowed specialists to intervene earlier in the patient treatment pathway by suggesting trial treatments and investigations for 11% of patients. Family Physicians are able to treat their patients faster by providing treatment, or obtaining appropriate investigations to give the Specialist a more immediate and holistic view of the patient to allow for more effective triage. By decreasing the number of unnecessary and routine referrals seen by specialists, Alethea is freeing up valuable time and resources for the more urgent cases.
Reducing Specialist Wait Times
The Fraser Institute(1) has split wait times into two segments:
Through the use of eConsultations, Alethea has found an overall decrease in the time to treatment for patients. Alethea helps decrease segment 1 by reducing the time to receive Specialist advice from an average of 12 weeks to 20 hours. There is a further reduction in Segments 1 and 2 for patients who avoid in person specialist consultations altogether and are instead treated at the primary care level, reducing the average wait time from 28 weeks to 20 hours.
Furthermore, due to the remote asynchronous nature of eConsultation Alethea helps provide equal access to specialist care regardless of whether the patient lives in a rural area or in the city. As long as the Family Physician has access to the internet, Alethea’s team of specialists will be available to them.
The initial impact study looked at 392 eConsults from six specialties. We are excited to see the impact Alethea can have on the Canadian healthcare system as we grow and strengthen the power of eConsultation.