This study explores the effectiveness of an electronic consultation (eConsult) service between primary care providers and psychiatry, and the types and content of the clinical questions that were asked.
This is a retrospective eConsult review study. All eConsults directed to Psychiatry from July 2011 to January 2015 by Primary care providers were reviewed. Response time and the amount of time reported by the specialist to answer each eConsult was analyzed. Each eConsult was also categorized by clinical topic and question type in predetermined categories. Mandatory post-eConsult surveys for primary care providers were analyzed to determine the number of traditional consults avoided and to gain insight into the perceived value of eConsults.
Of the 5597 eConsults, 169 psychiatry eConsults were completed during the study period. The average response time for a specialist to a primary care provider was 2.3 days. Eighty-seven percent of clinical responses were completed by the psychiatrist in less than 15 min. The primary care providers most commonly asked clinical questions were about depressive and anxiety disorders. 88.7% of PCPs rated the eConsult service a 5 (excellent value) or 4.
This study indicates that an eConsult psychiatry service has tremendous potential to improve access to psychiatric advice and expand the capacity to treat mental illness in primary care. Future research may include follow-up with PCPs regarding the implementation of specialist advice.