Analysis of an electronic consultation program at an academic medical centre: Primary care provider questions, specialist responses, and primary care provider actions.
J Telemed Telecare. 2017 Feb;23(2):217-224
Authors: Wrenn K, Catschegn S, Cruz M, Gleason N, Gonzales R
Introduction Electronic consultations (eConsults) increase access to specialty care, but little is known about the types of questions primary care providers (PCPs) ask through eConsults, and how they respond to specialist recommendations. Methods This is a retrospective descriptive analysis of the first 200 eConsults completed in the UCSF eConsult program. Participating PCPs were from eight adult primary care sites at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), USA. Medicine subspecialties participating were Cardiology, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/hepatology, Hematology, Infectious diseases, Nephrology, Pulmonary medicine, Rheumatology, and Sleep medicine. We categorized eConsult questions into "diagnosis," "treatment," and/or "monitoring." We performed medical record reviews to determine the percentage of specialist recommendations PCPs implemented, and the proportion of patients with a specialist visit in the same specialty as the eConsult, emergency department visit, or hospital admission during the subsequent six months. Results PCP questions related to diagnosis in 71% of cases, treatment in 46%, and monitoring in 21%. Specialist responses related to diagnosis in 76% of cases, treatment in 64%, and monitoring in 40%. PCPs ordered 79% of all recommended laboratory tests, 86% of recommended imaging tests and procedures, 65% of recommended new medications, and 73% of recommended medication changes. In the six months after the eConsult, 14% of patients had a specialist visit within the UCSF system in the same specialty as the eConsult. Discussion eConsults provide guidance to PCPs across the spectrum of patient care. PCPs implement specialists' recommendations in the large majority of cases, and few patients subsequently require in-person specialty care related to the reason for the eConsult.
PMID: 26940797 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]