Evaluation of BASE eConsult Manitoba: patient perspectives on the use of electronic consultation to improve access to specialty advice in Manitoba

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Singer, Alexander
Ireland, Laurie
Sepehri, Zahra
Brown, Kelly
Turner, Kevin
Liddy, Clare
Keely, Erin
Oppenheimer, Luis
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Background The burden of waiting to access specialist expertise may contribute to poorer health outcomes and causes distress for patients and providers. One solution to improve access to specialist care is to use innovative tools such as remote asynchronous electronic consultation (eConsult). Modeled after the Champlain BASE™ (Building Access to Specialist Advice) eConsult service, BASE™ eConsult Manitoba was launched in 2017 to help address long waits for patients to access specialist advice. Objective We aimed to evaluate patients’ experiences after obtaining a BASE™ eConsult Manitoba service in their primary care setting. Methods Patients whose Primary Care Providers (PCPs) used BASE™ eConsult as part of their care were asked to participate and complete a telephone-based or online 29-question survey between January 2021 and October 2021. The survey questions were created in consultation with patient partners and based on questions asked in studies done in other jurisdictions. Results Of the 36 patients who chose to participate, 29 completed the entire survey (80%). Two-thirds (n = 22) agreed that eConsult has been helpful in their situation, and over 80% (n = 24) of participants agreed that eConsult was an acceptable way to access specialist care. During the visit when their PCP sent the eConsult, 7 patients were expecting to be referred to a specialist for a face-to-face consultation. Over half of all respondents (n = 15) reported that before the eConsult occurred, their PCP asked them what questions they wanted to be answered by the specialist. Almost all of these respondents’ questions were fully answered by the eConsult. All of the respondents were satisfied with the experience of receiving an eConsult. Conclusion Using eConsult is an acceptable way to improve access to specialist advice from patients’ perspectives. Consideration should be given to expanding the use of eConsult services to improve access to specialist expertise for PCPs and their patients.
Access to care, Primary care, Qualitative research, Quality of care, eConsult
BMC Health Services Research. 2023 Feb 09;23(1):131
BMC Health Services Research. 2023 Feb 09;23(1):131