Periscope Project exceeding early goals

The Periscope Project, an effort from the Medical College of Wisconsin, is exceeding early goals.

MCW received a $1.2 million grant last year from the United Health Foundation to begin the program aimed at improving women’s health and births.

The program is called Periscope, which stands for Perinatal Speciality Consult Psychiatry Extension. Health care providers that enroll in this program can get teleconsultations with perinatal psychiatrists. They can also get information on additional resources for mental health and wellness.

In the first nine months of the project — July 2017 through March 2018 — over 300 providers have been enrolled the program, exceeding the original goal of 250 providers. According to an operations report, program organizers hope to get that number to 350 by the end of next year.

Since the program started, 180 consultations have been performed, and 52 providers have received information on mental health resources. Forty-eight presentations were given, including 11 in-person presentations to 455 providers.

Anthony Marusic, communications director for UnitedHealthcare, says the number of teleconsultations performed through TPP has been increasing each month.

Most providers utilizing TPP are Ob-Gyn physicians. Others include midwives, family medicine specialists and psychiatric doctors.

The most popular topic was medication, followed by resources and diagnostics. And most providers that called TPP were discussing specific patients. Of these, 59 percent were pregnant and 24 percent were new mothers.

Program Administrator Audrey Laszewski says TPP helps providers become “a bridge to care,” as they can get answers on tough questions much more quickly.

“There can be long wait times for behavioral health specialists,” she told “Depending on the community, the wait list can be weeks to months.”

She says TPP is averaging under 10 minutes per response.

Most of the providers involved in this effort — 45 percent — are at Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin. Twelve percent are at Aurora, and many others are at federally qualified health centers. Twenty percent fall into the “other” category, which includes health systems outside of the state, government agencies or private practice.

Though TPP services are available statewide, the Milwaukee area was the primary target for the effort “due to its dramatic and persistent health disparities by socioeconomic status,” report authors said.

The vast majority of TPP service usage has been in the Milwaukee area, but statewide outreach and expansion is ongoing.

The evaluation in this report came from UW-Milwaukee researchers, and makes up the first half of a more complete analysis. This primary report focused on enrolled and utilizing providers, while a secondary report will look at Medicaid claims to see if TPP has any impact on health care costs.

An initial analysis of claims data was done over a six-month period before TPP launched to set a baseline for both cost and utilization. During the second year of the program, another analysis will be performed and compared with the first to determine impact.

The results of that evaluation will be included in a final grant report in December 2019.

Grant funding from the United Health Foundation will cover operations until that time; the project is also supported by a $200,000 block grant for maternal health from the state Department of Health Services.

Laszewski says TPP organizers have begun looking for further funding, to ensure efforts can continue past the end of 2019.

See the report here:

–By Alex Moe