What is an e-consult?
An e-consult is an asynchronous dialogue initiated by a physician or other qualified health care professional seeking a specialist consultant’s expert opinion without a face-to-face patient encounter with the consultant.
“...up to one-third of referrals to specialists could be resolved with “eConsults” without an additional appointment. All of this is possible with the right payment system that rewards doctors for providing the level of care that patients need, not what insurance will pay for.”
Michael L. Barnett, MD, assistant professor of health policy and management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and primary care physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Access to specialty care is a major challenge for patients across the country. With provider shortages, demand outpaces the ability to meet the needs of a growing patient population, resulting in unmanageable wait times. Payers and provider organizations have realized that up to 50% of their patients’ non-urgent needs can be addressed without a face-to-face visit, reducing travel time and cost. With this, health systems, payers and policy makers are turning to e-consult.
“A safety net system can’t afford to hire enough specialists to meet demand — eConsults get around that problem by increasing access through enhancing efficiency.”
Dr. Mitchell Katz, former director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health. He is now the president of NYC Health & Hospitals, the nation’s largest public health care network, and he wants to expand the use of eConsults there as well.