Inland Empire Health Plan Improves Specialty Care Access for Inmates During Pandemic with eConsult from Safety Net Connect

Study reveals Converge eConsult platform enabled county jail systems to safely and rapidly increase access to specialty care.

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.--()--Safety Net Connect (SNC), a leading provider of innovative healthcare technology solutions, is pleased to announce the results from an Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) study on the implementation and impact of eConsult in two Southern California county jail systems, which increased safe, timely access to specialty care while reducing the need for in-person specialist visits.

The study published in the March 2021 volume of NEJM Catalyst Innovations in Care Delivery, reviewed the impact of Safety Net Connect’s eConsult platform (Converge) on the care of inmates at Riverside County Correctional Health Services (RCCHS) and San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department (SBCSD), in partnership with specialists from Riverside University Health Systems (RUHC) and Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC), respectively.

Results show that over a 12-month period, 20% of all cases typically referred for in-person specialist visits were treated onsite by Primary Care Providers after consultation with the RUHC and ARMC specialists. Part of this comes from the ability for a specialist to utilize eConsult to recommend the PCP order laboratory tests or imaging prior to the patient’s specialist visit, rather than ordering them at the visit and having to schedule another appointment when the testing is complete. Overall, analysis shows SNC’s implementation saved jails between $70,000 and $262,325 annually, while providing quality care.

“eConsult enabled us to bring high-quality specialty care to inmates during the pandemic, often in less than a day,” says lead author Dr. Stanley Frencher Jr., Medical Director of IEHP’s Multi-County eConsult Initiative and CEO of HubMD, a nonprofit virtual care medical group dedicated to improving access for vulnerable patients. “By avoiding travel both within and beyond jails when it wasn’t necessary, we were able to reduce risk for our patients, for the physicians, and for the jail staff—including everyone they come into contact with.”

One provider at RCCHS noted that prior to implementation of Converge eConsult, high-priority patients who received referrals typically had to wait somewhere between two weeks and two months before meeting with a specialist at RUHS. From July 2019 through July 2020, 48% of the submitted eConsults at RCCHS were resolved without an in-person specialist visit, with a median specialist response time of 18.5 hours. At SBCSD, 17% were resolved without an in-person specialist visit with a median response time of 10.3 hours.

“We created Converge eConsult to increase equity and access to healthcare,” shared Chris Cruttenden of SNC. “Results like this show that we can change the way we deliver care without impacting (and often even improving) the quality of care delivered.”

About IEHP

IEHP, Inland Empire Health Plan, is one of the top 10 largest Medicaid health plans and the largest not-for-profit Medicare-Medicaid plan in the country. With a network of more than 6,400 Providers and more than 2,300 employees, IEHP serves more than 1.3 million residents in Riverside and San Bernardino counties who are enrolled in Medicaid or Cal MediConnect Plan (Medicare-Medicaid Plan). Through a dynamic partnership with Providers and Community, award-winning service and innovative products, IEHP is fully committed to advocating for our Members and providing them with quality, accessible and wellness-based health care services. For more information, visit

About Safety Net Connect

With a mission to improve health equity, Safety Net Connect (SNC) has been the leading creator of innovative health care technology, making it easier for providers and institutions to improve quality, streamline care coordination, promote evidence-based practices, and increase access to care. Since 2009, SNC has helped public and private health care organizations across the nation, successfully reach millions of low-income, underserved individuals with affordable, effective patient-centered care. For more information, please visit


Kristine Nash-Wong

Release Summary

Inland Empire Health Plan study in SoCal jail systems shows Safety Net Connect eConsult increased specialty care access and reduced in-person visits.


Kristine Nash-Wong