Neuro2Go: A tool to overcome limitations of referrals
Every medical ailment demands attention, but some ailments are more urgent than others. Where a patient might be able to wait a week to have a sore toe examined, almost any problem with the central nervous system demands prompt examination and diagnosis.
Unfortunately, the healthcare system is not always designed for speed. Particularly when it comes to connecting with the right specialist, patients often must navigate the complexities of insurance coverage, rules governing referrals, and how much their deductible or copayments might be.
A 2011 study in The Milbank Quarterly, a journal of Population Health studies, described how existing referral systems are a source of frustration for both primary care doctors and specialists.
In 2018, a report in the Journal of General lnternal Medicine found that only 34.8% of more than 100,000 referral attempts to busy specialists over a one-year period from 2015-2016 resulted in a completed appointment.
Recognizing the need for a better healthcare model
Dr. Jeffrey Gelblum, Senior Attending Physician at South Florida’s First Choice Neurology, has extensive, first-hand experience as a neurologist as well as a consultant, researcher, and author in the field of neurology.
Dr. Gelblum and his colleagues recognized that while the existing system of referrals worked well for many, it was sometimes too cumbersome to meet the needs of some patients.
“If we live in a world where you can have a car delivered tomorrow,” Dr. Gelblum said, “we should also be living in a world where if you have a kid that has a seizure, you’re able to get in touch with a neurologist today or tomorrow.”
Dr. Gelblum and his colleagues at First Choice Neurology decided to do something about it. They leveraged the healow® telehealth solution, healow TeleVisits™, to develop Neuro2Go™. Learn more about their story here.
Neuro2Go pioneers the ‘one-click’ consultation
Simply put, Neuro2Go allows patients anywhere in the world to schedule a secure, HIPAA-compliant neurological consultation via telehealth with the click of a button.
The patient pays a $95 fee at the time the appointment is booked. There is no need for insurance, paperwork, or a referral. Appointments are scheduled — usually within a day or two — with a board-certified neurologist in the First Choice Neurology network.
“For example, say you have a loved one who has dementia, or a child who had a seizure, or a cousin who’s having severe migraine attacks,” Dr. Gelblum said. “Sometimes it’s difficult to get to the doctor, or maybe you just have more questions. Anyone can press a button and have instant access to a board-certified neurologist to discuss a neurological condition.”
Peace of mind just a click away
Dr. Gelblum said that Neuro2Go offers satisfaction and peace of mind to patients who may not have insurance, may not want to navigate their insurer’s referral system, or may not even know how to begin that process.
“This is great for individuals who may be between jobs, lost a job, or have had their insurance lapse,” Dr. Gelblum said. “We’ve got a lot of millennial patients coming in who don’t have the time, inclination, or really such a great understanding of how to go through their PCP to get to the specialist.”
“Our scheduling department assigns requests to participating physicians,” Dr. Gelblum said. “The encounter just pops up on my schedule like any other appointment, and I can then just click the healow app, which is our mobile interface, and have a face-to-face, HIPAA-compliant visit with that individual.
Connecting to the healthcare community
Neuro2Go may have been born in South Florida, but it has been used by patients around the country and even overseas. And there are several ways in which the service is connecting patients to the wider healthcare community.
First, because First Choice Neurology’s providers are licensed in Florida, their consultations cannot constitute treatment plans. If patients who live outside Florida need an exam and/or treatment, they can be referred to a specialist in their area.
Where Neuro2Go consultations can potentially impact clinical care is through the creation of a database of individuals nationwide with neurological conditions. That information, Dr. Gelblum said, can serve as a guide for providers seeking to better understand and treat a variety of neurological conditions.
Finally, the ability of Neuro2Go to succeed as a direct-to-consumer healthcare service depends upon maintaining a strong partnership with First Choice Neurology’s healthcare IT partners, eClinicalWorks® and healow.
“In order to make this type of customer-centric health delivery system work, you’ve obviously got to have a very good technological foundation in your EMR, which eClinicalWorks provides,” Dr. Gelblum said.