The days of consulting a legal-size document for a phone number are over, thanks to UCHealth’s DocLine, formerly the Access Center, a toll-free number that connects community providers with School of Medicine faculty 24/7.
DocLine is a “one call does it all” service for transfers and consultations. In addition to incorporating the former services of MD Connect, DocLine addresses several additional scenarios, including connecting providers via email when specialists are not formally on-call. (Pictured left to right: Luciana Smith, Larissa Thorniley, Ben Honigman, MD, Robert Leeret, Kim Benson)
DocLine is the result of a team effort of School of Medicine faculty and staff and UCHealth. “This team has met routinely to help to standardize the path for community physicians to get in touch with specialists,” says Larissa Thorniley, nurse manager of the UCHealth DocLine and Transfer Center.
Ben Honigman, MD, is associate dean and medical director for Clinical Outreach at University of Colorado Hospital (UCH). As a member of the Physician Relations team, he’s responsible for increasing effective communication—a process that started after community providers expressed frustration over the ability to connect with UCH-based faculty.
“We’ve come a long way,” says Dr. Honigman. “Every clinical or academic office used to have a different phone number and process for reaching their faculty.”
DocLine provides reliability for community and external physicians who are attempting to get in touch with SOM faculty or other physicians within UCHealth. “It removes the barriers community providers faced in transferring a patient to UCHealth or getting in touch with a specialist,” says Robert Leeret, senior director of UCHealth DocLine and Transfer Center.
School of Medicine (SOM) faculty members frequently field calls from community providers, who often have questions about their own patients. Sometimes community providers call to confer about patients who are also being seen by faculty specialists practicing at UCH.
For non-urgent calls, DocLine nurses can connect a community provider to a specific faculty member via email.
Dr. Honigman believes DocLine increases efficiency for patients and providers. “The entire system benefits when providers communicate by phone and email. It saves time and money,” he says.
SOM faculty have expressed concerns about the potential increase of unbillable time, which Dr. Honigman agrees is valid. However, DocLine is improving relationships between community providers and SOM specialists and eventually will increase referrals. Early findings from the Department of Neurology pilot showed of 60 calls in the sample, all were highly-rated and 56 of them resulted in new patient referrals.
“It’s good ROI for our faculty and the hospital,” says Dr. Honigman.
Users of DocLine say it’s working well and their calls and questions have been answered in a timely manner.
Recent qualitative survey calls to external providers from August through November 2014, resulted in a 4.94 average rating on a five-point scale when asked if their needs were met in a timely manner.
Overall, Dr. Honigman says that DocLine is the right thing for patients. “If you’re a physician outside of our system, and you are caring for a complicated patient problem, the advice you’re given could translate into higher quality of care.”
UCHealth will be announcing the toll-free number to the community soon. In the meantime, providers can continue to call 720-848-2828.
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