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Issue Brief (Commonw Fund). 2011 Oct;23:1-14.

Electronic consultations between primary and specialty care clinicians: early insights.

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MacColl Institute for Healthcare Innovation, Group Health Research Institute, USA.


Electronic consultation (e-consultation) is an emerging tool that primary care clinicians can use to communicate with specialists about patients asynchronously--that is, at different times that are convenient for each physician. To conduct an e-consultation, clinicians use either a Web-based program or a shared electronic medical record. Early adopters of e-consultation describe positive experiences for patients, clinicians, and health systems, including improved continuity of care, access to specialists, convenience, and information transfer. E-consultation presents opportunities to improve health care quality and reduce specialty care costs, but dissemination will be limited unless incentives are created and clinicians are encouraged to use e-consultation through financial reimbursement.

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