Bridging Primary and Specialty Care

Primary and specialty care physicians discussed pediatric guidelines in a series of videos produced by the ACO in 2017As health care has evolved over the last several decades, opportunities for primary care providers and specialists to interact, share information and develop collegial relationships have diminished. To put it simply, “we don’t meet up in the hospital hallways or catch each other easily on the phone anymore,” says Dr. Betsy Johnson, president and CEO of the MaineHealth ACO. Understanding that curtailed interaction may contribute to gaps in care or care that is fragmented, the MaineHealth ACO developed tools and opportunities during 2017 that enhance communication and collaboration between primary and specialty care.

Pediatric Referral Guidelines

Working in collaboration with Maine Medical Partners and the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, the ACO helped fund and develop a comprehensive new set of 48 pediatric outpatient referral guidelines that draws on the clinical knowledge of pediatric specialists, pediatricians and family practice physicians. Designed to help primary care providers decide if specialty referral is needed, the one-page guidelines use color-coded categories of symptoms and clinical findings to indicate the urgency or necessity of a specialist consultation. The guidelines address a wide range of domains, including pulmonology, oncology, endocrinology, dental and behavioral health. To increase accessibility, many of the guidelines include a video featuring a specialist and primary care provider discussing details and implications.

COPD Assist

Combining guidelines, training and telehealth, the ACO’s COPD Assist initiative helps primary care providers and patients gain access to pulmonologists and their expertise in treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), a common chronic disease in Maine and a major driver of emergency department utilization and hospital admissions. At the COPD Assist web page, primary care providers can find resources designed to support COPD treatment in the primary care setting, including a guide to care, referral guidelines and an on-demand education module. COPD Assist’s exciting telehealth component is currently being piloted by Chest Medicine Associates in Portland and Western Maine Primary Care in Norway. The pilot allows a COPD patient sitting in Norway to receive a visit from a pulmonologist in Portland via a remotely linked camera, microphone, monitor and e-stethoscope.

Listening Dinners

The ACO’s regional listening dinners create a collegial atmosphere for physicians to meet outside of the clinical setting. Originally established as an opportunity for ACO leaders to hear directly from frontline providers, the dinners have the added benefit of sparking discussion and connection between primary care and specialty care clinicians serving the same population of patients.

Bridging Primary and Specialty Care

Primary and specialty care physicians discussed pediatric guidelines in a series of videos produced by the ACO in 2017
As health care has evolved over the last several decades, opportunities for primary care providers and specialists to interact, share information and develop collegial relationships have diminished. To put it simply, “we don’t meet up in the hospital hallways or catch each other easily on the phone anymore,” says Dr. Betsy Johnson, president and CEO of the MaineHealth ACO. Understanding that curtailed interaction may contribute to gaps in care or care that is fragmented, the MaineHealth ACO developed tools and opportunities during 2017 that enhance communication and collaboration between primary and specialty care.

Pediatric Referral Guidelines

Working in collaboration with Maine Medical Partners and the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, the ACO helped fund and develop a comprehensive new set of 48 pediatric outpatient referral guidelines that draws on the clinical knowledge of pediatric specialists, pediatricians and family practice physicians. Designed to help primary care providers decide if specialty referral is needed, the one-page guidelines use color-coded categories of symptoms and clinical findings to indicate the urgency or necessity of a specialist consultation. The guidelines address a wide range of domains, including pulmonology, oncology, endocrinology, dental and behavioral health. To increase accessibility, many of the guidelines include a video featuring a specialist and primary care provider discussing details and implications.

COPD Assist

Combining guidelines, training and telehealth, the ACO’s COPD Assist initiative helps primary care providers and patients gain access to pulmonologists and their expertise in treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), a common chronic disease in Maine and a major driver of emergency department utilization and hospital admissions. At the COPD Assist web page, primary care providers can find resources designed to support COPD treatment in the primary care setting, including a guide to care, referral guidelines and an on-demand education module. COPD Assist’s exciting telehealth component is currently being piloted by Chest Medicine Associates in Portland and Western Maine Primary Care in Norway. The pilot allows a COPD patient sitting in Norway to receive a visit from a pulmonologist in Portland via a remotely linked camera, microphone, monitor and e-stethoscope.

Listening Dinners

The ACO’s regional listening dinners create a collegial atmosphere for physicians to meet outside of the clinical setting. Originally established as an opportunity for ACO leaders to hear directly from frontline providers, the dinners have the added benefit of sparking discussion and connection between primary care and specialty care clinicians serving the same population of patients.