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Denver Health Takes on Telemedicine with Support from National Partnership

A team at Denver Health has been hard at work to develop an electronic referral, or eReferral, program to connect vulnerable patients to much-needed specialty services. Many patients in the local Denver area face obstacles to receiving specialty care – such as limited transportation, inadequate coverage, and language barriers – and this initiative specifically seeks to address those challenges.

The initial stages of Denver Health’s program was largely supported by one of America’s Essential Hospitals’ own initiatives – the National Partnership for the Health Care Safety Net – funded by Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit.

The National Partnership aided the Denver Health team as they convened their Specialty Care Access Group and larger Mile High Health Alliance, the primary steering committees for the development of the eReferral program.

In addition, the National Partnership investigated successful eConsult and eReferral programs across the country (e.g., San Francisco, Los Angeles, Connecticut) to help the Denver team design the best option for their community.

Telemedicine, which encompasses eReferral programs, is just one example of population health work happening across the country. Like the Denver community, many patients face barriers to receiving specialty care services for various geographical and social reasons.

eReferral and eConsult models in particular streamline the process for patients to have their cases reviewed by a specialist without having to leave their home. This in turn creates a more efficient system for providers by reducing the number of unnecessary visits and procedures, as well as addressing availability and communication issues.

As health care continues to integrate population health practices and turn more toward electronic systems, telemedicine is sure to be at the forefront. Some regulatory and financial issues are still being resolved for these types of services, but many essential providers, including Denver Health, are making telemedicine a priority.

To find out more about the National Partnership, Denver Health’s program, or eReferral models, visit www.safetynetpartnership.org.

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About the Author

Janelle Schrag is a senior program analyst with America's Essential Hospitals.

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