Objective: To evaluate the feasibility of a rheumatology consultation and advisory service using internet and e-mail.
Methods: We placed a detailed rheumatology proforma on our website for general practitioners to complete and e-mail to our outpatients clinic. To study its feasibility, two junior doctors interviewed and completed the proforma for 207 new patients. Based on this information, the consultant provided provisional diagnoses, work up & management plans, which were then compared with those drawn up following face-to-face assessment of the same patients in the outpatients clinic.
Results: In most instances the pre- and post-examination diagnoses, work up & management plans were similar. Diagnostic concurrence was noted in 178 (86%) patients; no changes were required in x-rays and other tests requested in 129 (62%) patients; and the suggested treatment (including corticosteroid injections) remained the same in 153 (74%) patients.
Conclusion: Our results suggest that it is feasible to offer an e-mail or internet based outpatients consultation and advisory service in rheumatology and possibly other disciplines.