Providing virtual access to specialist medical care for underserved U.S. patients

The Problem

Nearly 30 million uninsured Americans rely on the nation’s safety net system of roughly 1,300 public hospitals, community health centers, and free clinics to provide primary care services regardless of their ability to pay.

Yet, a critical gap remains: 91 percent of safety net clinics report difficulty obtaining specialty care for the uninsured, leading to sicker patients and increased ER visits and hospitalizations. For the one in ten Americans who lack health insurance and need specialty care, the options are limited: pay out of pocket or delay treatment.

The Solution

Led by the Human Diagnosis Project, Specialty Net is an alliance of the nation's physician societies, licensing boards, and academic institutions that aims to close the specialty care gap for the nation's uninsured and underinsured.

Specialty Net is an open, online system that seeks to provide public health and safety net institutions low-cost access to specialty care expertise. Specialty Net will engage 100,000 volunteer specialists to provide electronic consultations to three million patients in the U.S. safety net system over the next five years. Researchers at Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of California, San Francisco, are currently validating the system’s technology performance, cost, outcomes, and educational and training value.

Patients will receive the specialty care they need, without having to wait or pay out of pocket. Specialists will receive credits toward their medical education, ongoing licensing, and maintenance of certification requirements. Each patient helped will add to an online system that combines collective intelligence with machine learning, helping to close the safety net specialty care gap and, ultimately, deliver this expertise globally.

MacArthur Managing Director Cecilia Conrad discusses this bold solution.


More Information

View the Human Diagnosis Project project website ›

Team Partners

  • American Board of Internal Medicine
  • American Board of Medical Specialties
  • American College of Physicians
  • American Medical Association

Project Lead 
Jay Komarneni
Founder & Chair of the Human Diagnosis Project

Twitter: @human_dx
Facebook: @humandx

Project Contact:
Jay Komarneni, Founder & Chair of the Human Diagnosis Project


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