Electronic Consults (EC) offer enhanced access to endocrinologists for patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). The effects of EC on costs of care and glycemic control compared to Face-to-Face (F2F) visits are unknown. A retrospective chart review was conducted for Veterans who received EC (n=440) or F2F (n=397) care for T2DM through the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (VAPHS) from 2010 to 2015. Data on demographics, rurality, days to consult completion, and percent (%) A1C at baseline and post-consult at 3-6, and 12 months were collected. A web-based tool calculated the average round-trip distance in miles and travel time in hours from patient’s residential zip code to VAPHS. Annual travel costs for recommended 3 visits per year were estimated at a reimbursement rate of $0.415 per mile. Continuous measures (mean ± standard deviation) were compared using Wilcoxon rank-sum tests. Categorical measures (sex, rurality) were presented as percentages and compared between groups by time point using chi-square tests. Veterans who received EC were predominantly male (98.4%), younger (64.2±8.5 years) and rural (15.8%) than those who received F2F care (95.3% male, p=0.01; 68.1±8.7 years, p<0.0001; 3.7% rural, p<0.0001). The EC cohort had shorter consult completion time than the F2F cohort (EC: 10±10 days, F2F: 37±33; p<0.0001). Mean annual travel-related savings per Veteran in the EC cohort were 431±297 miles, 9.4±7 hours, and $179±123. Mean annual travel burden per Veteran in the F2F cohort were 159±171 miles, 3.5±4 hours and $66±71. EC and F2F cohorts had similar baseline A1C values (10%±1.6). Both cohorts had decline in baseline percent A1C to 3- 6 months (EC: 8.98%±1.54, F2F: 8.75%±1.77, p=0.03) and from baseline percent A1C to 12 months (EC: 8.80%±1.61, F2F: 8.57%±1.72, p=0.002). Electronic consults deliver effective and expedient care by saving money and travel time, and offer long-term, sustainable glycemic control comparable to F2F care for patients in remote areas with T2DM.


N. Karajgikar: None. K.B. Detoya: None. J.N. Beattie: None. S.J. Lutz-McCain: None. M.Y. Boudreaux-Kelly: None. A. Bandi: None.

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