Interdisciplinary Team Evaluation: An Effective Method for the Diagnostic Assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Abstract

Objective:

The objective of this research is to assess the feasibility of an interdisciplinary team diagnostic assessment model for autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Method:

Medical records from 366 patients evaluated for ASD at the Seattle Children's Autism Center (SCAC) were reviewed. ASD diagnostic outcomes, provider satisfaction, engagement in follow-up care, billed time, and reimbursement amounts were compared in patients evaluated through an interdisciplinary team approach (n = 91) with those seen in multidisciplinary evaluations led by either a psychologist (n = 165) or a physician (n = 110).

Results:

Diagnostic determination was made in 90% of patients evaluated through the interdisciplinary team model in a single day. Rates of ASD diagnosis were similar across the 3 tracks, ranging from 61% to 72%. Demographic characteristics did not impact the likelihood of ASD diagnosis. Rates of patient follow-up care and provider satisfaction were significantly higher in interdisciplinary versus multidisciplinary teams. Interdisciplinary team evaluations billed 1.8 fewer hours yet generated more net hourly clinic income compared with psychology-led multidisciplinary evaluations.

Conclusion:

An interdisciplinary team approach, focusing on ruling-in or ruling-out ASD, was sufficient to determine ASD diagnosis in most patients seen at the SCAC Interdisciplinary teams generated more clinic income and decreased the time spent in evaluation compared with a psychology-led approach. They did so while maintaining consistency in diagnostic rates, demonstrating increased provider satisfaction and an increased likelihood of engagement in follow-up care.

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