Enhancing Spinal Cord Injury Primary Care through E-Consultation: A Pilot Study
Author(s): James Milligan, Catharine Craven B, Anthony S Burns, Joseph Lee, Loretta M Hillier, Dalton Wolfe, Craig Bauman
This pilot study explored the feasibility of using an e-consultation service to link family physicians with physiatrists to improve timely access to information and advice regarding SCI care. Sixteen family physicians and two tertiary care physiatrists were recruited. Family physicians could access physiatrists using a secure e-consultation system. Following pilot testing, nine physicians and two physiatrists completed an individual interview to obtain their perceptions of the service. The number and reasons for e-consultation were tracked. A total of 14 e-consultations were completed, most frequently for bladder (n=4) and bowel issues (n=4). Analysis generated six themes regarding e-consultation: (i) provides improved access to SCI information and expertise, (ii) can avoid specialist referrals and emergency department visits, (iii) is easy and convenient to use, (iv) is a secured system; (v) is facilitated by dedicated resource support, (vi) is limited by the system (technological) constraints. A SCI specific e-consultation service can provide family physicians with timely access to advice not otherwise easily available and that has a direct impact on patient care. Larger scale studies are needed to explore impacts on capacity building in primary care, health system utilization, and patient health and well-being.