Hundreds of referrals received 6 months in to Cleveland Clinic's employer offering

Questioning a serious diagnosis can be daunting for patients when they don't know where to turn. But just six months into Cleveland Clinic's Clinical Review employer offering, hundreds of patient referrals have already been received since the program debuted in March. 

The program grew out of the health system's strategy to expand its reach, broaden access to its renowned physicians and help more patients. Particularly after a frequency of seeing "a lot of patients who the clinical organization feels like could have been served if they had gotten answers sooner in their course of care," Wes Wolfe, the executive director of Network Services at Cleveland Clinic told Becker's.

By making this an employer offering, companies can offer it as a benefit to their employees and these individuals now have the option to connect directly with a Cleveland Clinic provider, have their medical records reviewed, questions answered and get a second opinion from a clinician at  the No. 2 hospital in the world ranked by Newsweek, even if they do not live near a Cleveland Clinic location. 

In about 50 percent of cases physicians review, they have been able to make diagnoses, answer questions, guide treatment and help program participants navigate some of their toughest health challenges, he said. 

"We had a patient who was diagnosed with cancer and came to us through the program," Mr. Wolfe said. "We took a look at the patient and our experts said, 'No, you actually don't have cancer. You have an arterial aneurysm.' So after receiving that correct diagnosis, the patient came in and had the procedure done in Cleveland."

Since the employer offering is broadly available, individuals who take advantage of the program to get additional insight may not always be located close to a Cleveland Clinic location. In those instances, a patient will take that information and elect to have a procedure done locally with a non-Cleveland Clinic provider, or they can be connected to the health system's alumni network and receive a referral to the closest provider in their area who can assist them, Mr. Wolfe explained.

In the other 50 percent of cases it's still "a tremendous value," he said, even when a patient's medical records are reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic expert, and they hear that the diagnosis they already have is correct or that the clinicians agree with the treatment regimen they have been prescribed. Having that information confirmed by a trusted source can give patients relief, Mr. Wolfe said. 

Looking ahead, the health system does have plans to expand the program. While scaling the program will take time, within one year, Mr. Wolfe said he hopes to be able to say the offering has helped double the number of patients it already has.

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