Perspectives of Health Care Providers in an Integrated Health Care Delivery Network on Inpatient Electronic Consultation (e-Consult) Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic

J Patient Exp. 2021 Apr 6:8:23743735211007696. doi: 10.1177/23743735211007696. eCollection 2021.


A large academic hospital system (Allegheny Health Network) introduced inpatient electronic consultations (e-Consults) during the COVID-19 crisis. Providers were invited to complete an anonymous survey on their perceptions of e-Consults. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze Likert-scale data. Cronbach's alpha was used to assess internal consistency. Ninety-five providers completed the survey. Requesting and consulting providers agreed that e-Consults were easy to use (100% and 96.2%, respectively). Both groups also concurred that e-Consults either decreased or did not significantly impact their workload (81% and 74%, respectively) and that training was appropriate (77.8% and 86.8%, respectively). The advantage and barrier selected most frequently by specialists was "timelier completion of the consult versus in-person" and "inadequate information to complete the consult," respectively. The disadvantage selected most frequently by requesting physicians was "lack of communication between providers." Open-ended comments were categorized into themes. Concerns were raised regarding whether provider-provider communication via this platform offered enough information to make recommendations compared to traditional encounters. The perceived benefits and barriers of e-Consults should be further explored with the goal of improving patient care delivery and provider satisfaction.

Keywords: e-consultation; electronic consultation; tele-medicine.