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eConsults are Essential for Patient-Centered Care: An Interview with Laolu Fayanju, MD

Published on April 17, 2024  |  By: RubiconMD

Laolu Fayanju, MD, MSc brings more than 10 years of clinical and healthcare leadership to his role as Chief Medical Officer of RubiconMD. Dr. Fayanju holds a special interest in developing clinical products and services to educate and empower clinicians and support patients throughout the care continuum. Recently, Dr. Fayanju shared his perspectives on the role of eConsults in transforming primary care outcomes, and how same day specialty insights can help organizations deliver patient-centered care.

How has the role of Primary Care Physicians (PCPs) changed in recent years? 

PCPs are the quarterbacks of care. They are entrusted with treating patients at a single point in time and also with navigating them through the complexities of the healthcare ecosystem. Gone are the days when every medical condition required a trip to different specialists. Today, PCPs manage a wide array of complex conditions. Prevention and chronic care management are essential not only for better patient outcomes but also for reducing overall healthcare costs. It’s time for us to empower PCPs to take the lead in this paradigm shift.

How has the availability of eConsults transformed the traditional patient-provider relationship?

The advent of eConsults has helped redefine the patient-provider relationship. These virtual consultations enhance accessibility, continuity of care, and ultimately patient satisfaction. Personally, I’ve seen remarkable benefits in my practice through eConsult platforms like RubiconMD. Let me share an example: I have the privilege of caring for a woman who lives in the Midwest. She has both seizure disorder and was diagnosed with Hepatitis C. The medicines that we use for treating hepatitis C can sometimes interact with the medicines that one would take to manage epilepsy or a seizure. For years nobody was able to do anything about it because she was kept bouncing back and forth between Specialists — one who would do one thing and one who wouldn’t do the other —  It was great to be able to use an eConsult to rationally figure out how to stop the seizure medicine and replace it with something else that would not interact with her hepatitis C medicine. Once we were able to begin that medication, it just bonded us closer. It was one of the best days of the year when I was able to share with her that she was cured, and she was going to be alright.

How do eConsults help avoid referrals? 

PCPs can leverage the full knowledge of a specialist network to figure out what they can do before their patient needs to see a specialist. At RubiconMD, we’ve undertaken significant efforts to ensure that PCPs have access to the necessary information they need to enable them to extend care beyond the traditional limitations of their setting. Now that allows us to be part of the value-based care agenda that helps deliver patient-centered care. Our eConsults have been very successful in being implemented in all different kinds of care environments. We focus on making sure that rather than reinventing the wheel, we become a cog in the wheel and one that continues to support the work that you do.

How do eConsults support patient-centered care for the most complex cases? 

eConsults serve as a bridge, closing gaps in care and complementing in-person consultations when needed, especially for complex medical cases. No matter where you live, your ZIP code, or your insurance status, eConsults democratize access to high-quality healthcare, ensuring equitable specialty care, while seamlessly integrating with diverse EHRs and EMRs.

Patient-centered care is the best kind of care. Through eConsults, PCPs are really doing that — we’re meeting the patient where they are, and we’re bringing the resources to the patient rather than expecting them to navigate their care journey alone. If I can increase convenience and ease by bringing specialist insights into my practice, I feel like we’re doing good by the patient — and ultimately the entire health system benefits from that as well.

What are the value of eConsults and how will they evolve in the near future? 

There is a measurable ROI for eConsults. First, you can measure it in terms of time and money saved by patients and their healthcare practices. Using eConsults reduces the cost of care by ensuring timely access to Specialty Care and leveraging primary care providers effectively. This results in significant savings. Second, eConsults save patients money on transportation expenses and reduce missed workdays. And third, they improve clinical outcomes for patients with conditions like diabetes, hypertension, heart failure, or COPD by promoting better therapy adherence and closer follow-up care. This, in turn, reduces emergency room visits and hospitalizations, contributing further to cost savings and overall patient well-being.

And the future holds immense promise, allowing us to dreamcast about product and eConsult platform advancements. I and others at RubiconMD dedicate much of our time to this endeavor. Personally, I’m excited about exploring more ways to impact patients directly and expanding eConsult capabilities with various communication modalities, along with telephony and telehealth solutions. These opportunities lie within our reach. With our mission as our guiding star, the future looks very bright.

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See how proactive use of eConsults for diabetes management reduced population health A1c by 1.5% and reduced referrals per visit by 15%.