Patient Satisfaction: Patients Report Similar Satisfaction Levels with E-Consult and In-Person Referrals
Journal of General Internal Medicine (February 2020)
As e-consult adoption expands, so does research demonstrating patient understanding of and satisfaction with e-consults. A newly published study, which documents patient surveys conducted AAMC Project Core, delivers valuable insights into patients’ awareness of e-consults and compares these experiences with those of in-person referrals.
Among the 8087 patients that completed surveys, which was emailed to patients within 2 to 6 weeks after their primary care encounters. Of these, 11.6% had e-consults and 88.4% had in-person referrals. Both groups reported similar levels of satisfaction with their experiences and understanding of their specialist recommendations:
— 81.4% of e-consult patients and 81.9% of referral patients reported satisfaction with the specialists’ recommendations
— 97% of e-consult patients and 95 referral agreed that specialists recommendations were clearly explained
The survey also found that both patient groups had the same acceptance of provider e-consult use or referrals. This comparative research counters provider concerns that patients would perceive e-consults as a low quality care, adding another layer to the high value of e-consults.
Patient Satisfaction: New Study Assesses Caregiver Perspectives on Pediatric EConsult Use
Journal of Medical Internet Research (February 2020)
To assess patient perspectives on pediatric e-consult perspectives, researchers at the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine (UPMC) interviewed the caregivers of 20 UPMC Children’s Hospital Primary Care Clinic patients. The interviews focused on caregiver views of e-consult benefits as well as preferences for “family involvement.” These elements included access to econsult status, read-only access the dialog between PCPs and specialists and the ability to add their own questions to the dialog.
The assessment found that caregivers agree that e-consults would reduce burdens such as travel time, time away from school or work, and wait time for specialist input. However, caregivers also expressed concern that e-consults would eliminate the traditional in-person pediatric “care triad” that includes the specialist, caregiver and primary care provider.
The study’s authors recommend that pediatric care providers considering the use of e-consults should “incorporate parent perspectives” in the design of their electronic consultation process to help improve acceptance and uptake of pediatric e-consult use.
Patient Education: Patient Focus Groups Express Broad Acceptance After Learning about E-Consults
Annals of Family Medicine (January/February 2020)
To assess patient perspectives on econsults, researchers conducted primary patient focus groups at five academic medical centers to explore patient opinions about e-consults. The academic medical centers participate in AAMC’s Project C
ORE: Coordinating Optimal Referral Experiences, which uses e-consults to “improve the efficiency and effectiveness of clinical communication between primary care and specialty care clinicians.”
“Nearly all focus groups responded positively to the idea of [e-consult] and were enthusiastic about its potential benefits…All focus groups felt that [e-consult] would result in better care, time and cost savings, and shorter wait times for appointments with specialists,” the authors note.
Patients maintained a positive perspective on e-consults as long as they did not replace needed in-person appointments and that patients would not be charged a copay for their use. The focus group input revealed that “patient involvement in outreach and education efforts could help to improve [e-consult] models and enhance their uptake.”