Electronic Consultations Between Primary and Specialty Care Clinicians Show Benefits

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<p>Today, primary care physicians and the specialists to whom they refer patients tend to see less of each other, and both groups of doctors say they are dissatisfied with the referral process and the quality of information shared. A new <a href="/publications/issue-briefs/2011/oct/electronic-consultations-between-primary-and-specialty-care">Commonwealth Fund issue brief</a> explores the promise of electronic consultation (e-consultation) for enabling primary care clinicians and specialists to communicate about patients at times that are mutually convenient. </p>
<p>Authors Kathryn Horner, M.S., Ed Wagner, M.D., and Jim Tufano, Ph.D., find that early adopters of e-consultation, conducted through e-mail, a Web site, or a shared electronic medical record, report positive experiences for patients, clinicians, and health systems, including improved continuity of care, access to specialists, and convenience, as well as more appropriate referrals. </p>
<p>More research is needed on e-consultation's effectiveness and costs, the authors say, and the issue of financial reimbursement will need to be resolved if the approach is to be widely adopted. <br /></p>