eConsults

Technological advances are allowing healthcare providers to interact with their patients as well as other healthcare providers in more modern ways. Today, healthcare providers can communicate with one another more quickly by using technology to address health challenges in a timely manner. Electronic consultation or eConsults can improve patient care by providing primary care providers (PCPs) with the ability to communicate electronically and securely with a specialist. These electronic communications can recommend guidance regarding the need for a patient referral or modification of a course of action or treatment. eConsults are categorized as “store and forward” or asynchronous telehealth. The PCP initiates the eConsult with a specialist (much like a voicemail only in secure written form), who responds with advice or an opinion for the PCP. Unlike a traditional consult, the patient does not need to visit with the specialist or communicate directly with the specialist at this point in the process. The communications occur between providers. The clinical question is often answered solely via eConsult, although the specialist may eventually see the patient in-person.

In this course, we discuss the rationale behind eConsults, models for eConsults, benefits of using eConsults, barriers to using eConsults, and critical policy considerations when implementing eConsults.

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