e-Consults speed access; most cases take less than 15 minutes

Remote consultations with specialists were well-received among physicians and provided more timely access and improved communication to determine the best treatment, according to a study published at the journal Telemedicine and e-Health.

The research, conducted in Ontario, Canada, involved a secure, regional web-based e-consultation service called Champlain BASE (Building Access to Specialists through e-consultation), which included a robust firewall and granular access controls.

In all, 406 e-consultations in 16 specialty services took place, most commonly in dermatology, endocrinology, neurology, internal medicine, cardiology and hematology.

In 89 percent of cases, specialists provided an answer without requesting further information. Ninety percent of the cases took less than 15 minutes of the specialists' time and 75 percent of the cases were answered within three days.

Providers and patients rated the service as highly beneficial in 90 percent of cases. In 43 percent of cases, the need for a referral was ruled out. In 56 percent of cases, the primary care provider was advised on a new or additional course of action; 41 percent backed the course of action the original provider had in mind. In 19 percent of cases, a referral was still needed, but the primary provider believed the e-consultation would lead to a more effective referral visit.

Research has found telehealth effective in follow-up after some low-risk surgeries and for monitoring patients with implantable electronic cardiovascular devices, though some patients still prefer face-to-face follow-up.

To learn more:
- read the study

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