A study across five academic medical centers examined the reaction of patients to the use of an electronic consultation (eConsult) service for primary care provider-to-specialist consultation. This focus group study of adult primary care patients was conducted to better understand patients' opinions, as most previous eConsult studies focused on clinical and financial impacts and clinician responsibility. Fifty-two participants across five focus groups were introduced to the eConsult model and were asked to discuss potential benefits and drawbacks, as well as acceptability of a hypothetical copay and preferences for involvement in future eConsult decision making and communication. Participants in all five focus groups reacted favorably to the eConsult concept; quicker access to specialty care and convenience were cited as key benefits, with approval rates particularly high among those having a trusted primary care provider. Some patients wanted to be involved in eConsult decision making and communication. They also expressed a decreased enthusiasm about eConsults if a copay were to be introduced. A small number of participants were also concerned about potential misuse of the system and about the exclusion of the patient's illness narrative in the eConsult exchange.
Patients Assess an eConsult Model's Acceptability at 5 US Academic Medical Centers
Sara L. Ackerman, PhD, MPH, et al
University of California, San Francisco, California