Kathryn Horner, M.S., Ed Wagner, M.D., M.P.H., M.A.C.P., and Jim Tufano, Ph.D., M.H.A.
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.