Referrals to medical specialists are an important step in care delivery; however the referral process is often slow, complex and opaque. Patients who are referred to specialists may experience delays or fall completely through the cracks. At the same time, physicians experience workflow inefficiencies that negatively impact their ability to deliver care. To streamline and digitize this process, Toronto Drs. Ilan Shahin, Steve Pomedli, and Matthew Friszt created ConsultLoop, an e-referral solution for primary care providers.
We spoke with co-founder Dr. Shahin to learn more.
What is ConsultLoop?
ConsultLoop is an e-referral solution that improves how primary care providers refer their patients to specialty care. We provide a directory of 5,000 Ontario specialists with their wait times, scope of practice, and location information. Clients track all referrals to ensure that none get lost and no patients fall through the cracks. Patients can follow along like they are tracking a package, and receive text and email notifications about any updates.
Why did you start ConsultLoop?
We started the company in 2016. As practicing family doctors, we saw our patients encounter these problems on a daily basis, sometimes with negative, care-impacting outcomes. We knew that we needed a solution that extended beyond our clinic walls, and the opportunity was there to solve this across the province of Ontario. The impact on patient access is what drove us to start the company, and what drives us still today.
What are you trying to solve? Why is it such a big problem?
We solve three problems: patient wait times to access specialty care, lack of patient safety through lost referrals, and clinic efficiency through improved communication and decreased no-shows. In aggregate, these situations cause patients to wait, worry, and try to manage referrals themselves unnecessarily, at a time when they shouldn’t have to. Clinical staff then waste an inordinate amount of time with faxes, manual phone calls, and troubleshooting lost referrals. This is time and money better spent being available to patients and delivering care.
What are you trying to achieve with ConsultLoop?
We are digitizing the manual workflows and fax-based information flows between clinics. In doing so we are able to include patients in the process and improve their experience navigating our healthcare system.
What impact has ConsultLoop made?
Our system now collects wait time data on 5,000 Ontario specialists through use of the platform. For our family physician customers, 70% of their outbound phone calls have been eliminated, and for our specialist customers, they reported approximately half as many no-shows. Finally for patients, they seem to really like our service: our Net Promoter Score for patients is 45, which is excellent.
What is your biggest milestones or successes?
In March 2018, we managed our 15,000th referral.
What problems did you face along the way?
MedStack has been a huge help for us. Being on MedStack allows us to know that privacy compliance is well-managed, and as we explore integrations and partnerships, the MedStack integration capabilities make us well-positioned to consider options that we could not if we were on our own. We also really value the community of companies that MedStack is creating, and its sparked some valuable relationships already.
Where are you headed next? Where and how do you see ConsultLoop growing?
Our current goal is to continue growing our referral network. The key to achieving this is better patient engagement and empowerment, and it’s an exciting time for this across the industry in general. This opens up opportunities to explore new verticals, markets and products, including other provinces in Canada.