E-consults, or electronic consultation, is a common form of asynchronous telehealth that has been widely adopted and shown significant improvement in the delivery of care. An e-consult platform connects primary care doctors with on-demand specialists who can review and consult on cases that would be otherwise referred for specialist appointments. E-consults improve access to care by allowing primary care providers to treat a large percentage of routine referrals within primary care, backed by specialist guidance. This, in turn, better triaged referrals to reduce appointment wait times for those patients in need of face-to-face appointments, and expedites care for those who can be managed within primary care. E-consults have shown to be especially effective in improving access and quality within underserved populations who face significant challenges in accessing the care they need.
E-consults support a closed-loop referral system, where a primary care provider can effectively act to coordinate care and follow-up from direct communication with specialists and patients regarding the treatment plan. In addition, e-consults better prepare patients for a more effective conversion to face-to-face specialty referrals if needed. Workups and necessary diagnostics can be completed within primary care following specialty guidance before appointments. This reduces unnecessary appointments and duplicate testing, as well as time spent waiting for care.
Successful asynchronous telehealth programs have been implemented all over the world. Another positive aspect of asynchronous telehealth solutions is the ability to efficiently and seamlessly integrate into clinical workflows. This e-consult integration enables clinicians to launch the telehealth platform directly through the clinic EHR, creating a user-friendly experience for answering e-consults with minimal provider burden and workflow changes.