Ask the eConsultant: Improving access to haematology expertise using an asynchronous eConsult system

J Telemed Telecare. 2017 Apr;23(3):421-427. doi: 10.1177/1357633X16644095. Epub 2016 Apr 22.


Introduction The Champlain BASE (Building Access to Specialists through eConsultation) eConsultation service was designed to address the limited access to specialist care in Canada, which can lead to long waiting times and, subsequently, negative patient outcomes. Our primary objective was to perform an in-depth analysis of the use, content, and perceived value of haematology electronic consults (eConsults) submitted by primary care providers (PCPs) to the eConsult service. Methods We conducted a cross-sectional study using descriptive statistics to examine post-eConsult surveys for PCPs and other collected data including PCP designation, time for specialist to complete the eConsult, specialist response time, perceived value of the eConsult by the PCP, and the need for a face-to-face referral following the eConsult. A medically-trained author reviewed all haematology eConsults from April 2011 to January 2015, and categorized them by clinical topic and question type using validated taxonomies. Results Haematology accounted for 436 out of 5601 (7.8%) total eConsults, making it the third most popular service utilized. In 66% of haematology eConsults, a face-to-face consultation was not needed. Anaemia, neutropenia, and hyperferritinemia were the most common clinical queries. Most eConsult question types concerned the management of haematological disorders or the interpretation of laboratory tests. Most eConsults were answered within three days, using less than 15 minutes of the specialists' time. PCPs highly valued the service. Discussion This initiative increases access to haematology care and has the potential to reduce the long waiting times for non-urgent traditional consultation, along with the benefit of cost savings to the healthcare system.

Keywords: Electronic consultation; eConsult; eHealth; haematology; telehealth; telemedicine.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Distance Counseling / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / organization & administration*
  • Hematologic Diseases
  • Hematology / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Primary Health Care / methods
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telemedicine