The objective of this research is to assess the feasibility of an interdisciplinary team diagnostic assessment model for autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Medical records from 366 patients evaluated for ASD at the Seattle Children's Autism Center (SCAC) were reviewed. ASD diagnostic outcomes, provider satisfaction, engagement in follow-up care, billed time, and reimbursement amounts were compared in patients evaluated through an interdisciplinary team approach (n = 91) with those seen in multidisciplinary evaluations led by either a psychologist (n = 165) or a physician (n = 110).
Diagnostic determination was made in 90% of patients evaluated through the interdisciplinary team model in a single day. Rates of ASD diagnosis were similar across the 3 tracks, ranging from 61% to 72%. Demographic characteristics did not impact the likelihood of ASD diagnosis. Rates of patient follow-up care and provider satisfaction were significantly higher in interdisciplinary versus multidisciplinary teams. Interdisciplinary team evaluations billed 1.8 fewer hours yet generated more net hourly clinic income compared with psychology-led multidisciplinary evaluations.
An interdisciplinary team approach, focusing on ruling-in or ruling-out ASD, was sufficient to determine ASD diagnosis in most patients seen at the SCAC Interdisciplinary teams generated more clinic income and decreased the time spent in evaluation compared with a psychology-led approach. They did so while maintaining consistency in diagnostic rates, demonstrating increased provider satisfaction and an increased likelihood of engagement in follow-up care.