eConsult: A technology and process addressing our waitlist problem
We know that wait times to see specialists are long.
In 2016, 56% of Canadian adults waited more than four weeks for an appointment.
The Champlain BASE™ eConsult* is helping solve this problem. A secure online platform that connects primary care providers to specialists, eConsult allows physicians the opportunity to seek and receive advice from a specialist regarding health challenges facing a patient in as little as two days.
Not only does this platform reduce wait times dramatically, but it also reduces the number of appointments a patient has. With eConsult, the primary care physician takes the question directly to the specialist and relays the result to the patient, improving the patient experience.
With such potential to help improve the quality of life for patients, a research team** began exploring methods to integrate this online consultation into the practice of a primary care physician.
The goal was to find a way to build eConsult into the workflow of our family health team physicians to increase and maintain the adoption of this innovation.
The team found that the strength of the program was dependent on using this new tool within the existing work patterns. Clerks would submit the request for the eConsult on behalf of the physician.
Integrating the new technology into a familiar workflow has proven to be the simplest way to create the most significant impact.
Adoption rates of eConsult have been and remain high, with the Academic Family Health Team at Bruyère being among the top users of the service, improving the experience of our patients by reducing the turnaround time for input from a specialist and eliminating a trip to their office. eConsult has also led to a reduction in the backlog of traditional referrals at the clinic.
Launched as a small proof-of-concept in 2010 in the Ottawa region, the eConsult service has completed nearly 50,000 cases, enrolled more than 1,400 primary care providers, been replicated in Manitoba, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Here in Ontario, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care now supports the service and is undergoing expansion province-wide.
*Champlain BASE™ eConsult was developed through a partnership between the Bruyère Research Institute, the Champlain LHIN, The Ottawa Hospital and the Winchester District Memorial Hospital
**Clare Liddy, MD, MSc, CCFP, FCFP; Gwen de Man, MD; Isabella Moroz, PhD; Amir Afkham, BEng(H); Jay Mercer, MD; Erin Keely, MD