Algorithmic Approach With Clinical Pathology Consultation Improves Access to Specialty Care for Patients With Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

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Abstract

Objectives: Harris Health System (HHS) is a safety net system providing health care to the underserved of Harris County, Texas. There was a 6-month waiting period for a rheumatologist consult for patients with suspected systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The objective of the intervention was to improve access to specialty care.

Methods: An algorithmic approach to testing for SLE was implemented initially through the HHS referral center. The algorithm was further offered as a “one-click” order for physicians, with automated reflex testing, interpretation, and case triaging by clinical pathology.

Results: Data review revealed that prior to the intervention, 80% of patients did not have complete laboratory workups available at the first rheumatology visit. Implementation of algorithmic testing and triaging of referrals by pathologists resulted in decreasing the waiting time for a rheumatologist by 50%.

Conclusions: Clinical pathology intervention and case triaging can improve access to care in a county health care system.

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