SIIReN - System Integration & Innovation Research Network

Primary Health Care System


What is the Current State of e-Referral/e-Consultation?
(research in progress)
Hogel, M., T. Lamont Centre for Primary Health Care Research, Bruyère Research Institute, Ottawa, ON, Canada
Liddy, C., Department of Family Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Research Focus:

The current process for obtaining specialty care is unsatisfactory to patients, primary care providers, and specialty physicians. We have developed and implemented an electronic method of improving the referral process. A better understanding of how others are using electronic mechanisms to improve referrals would inform the growth of our system in terms of implementation, adoption, reach, effectiveness and maintenance. This two-part project consisted of 1) a systematic review examining studies which have evaluated the impact of electronic consultation/referral (eConsult/Referral) systems worldwide and 2) an environmental scan of eConsult/Referral systems in Canada coupled with stakeholder interviews in order to gain insight on lessons learned from the successes and failures of others. Through the first stage of the systematic review, the search strategy employed returned 910 studies. Screening reduced the list to 56 studies which matched the inclusion criteria. The environmental scan identified 27 eConsult/Referral systems which led to the development of a target list of 11 individuals involved in the design and implementation of eConsult/Referral systems in all but two provinces/territories in Canada. Following data extraction of the 56 studies included in the systematic review, a narrative synthesis describing the prevalence, characteristics, and impact of eConsult/Referral systems worldwide will be produced. Qualitative thematic analysis of interviews with the targeted individuals within Canada will reveal common facilitators and barriers to the implementation and maintenance of eConsult/Referral systems within the context of Canadian healthcare.

For more information please contact:
Dr. Matthew Hogel


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