Understanding E-Consults: How They Enhance Your Healthcare

Understanding E-Consults: How They Enhance Your Healthcare

What is an e-consult?

E-consults are a way for a primary care providers (PCP) to consult with a medical specialist on behalf of their patient through the hospital’s medical record system. E-consults can often save a patient from having to be referred to a specialist for common medical issues. They can also be helpful for PCPs to get advice from specialists about choosing medications, interpreting test results, and managing chronic conditions.

How does an e-consult work?

  • If your provider has a question about your health that might need a specialist’s opinion, but you don’t necessarily need to see the specialist in person, they can use an e-consult.
  • Next, your provider sends a message to the specialist. This message includes information about your health and any specific questions your provider has.
  • The specialist looks at the information and sends back advice to your provider. They might suggest what to do next, like tests or treatments, or they might say you should see the specialist in person.
  • Your provider uses the advice from the specialist to decide on the best next steps for your care. This could include new tests, changes in your medicine, or other treatments.

For the 9th Year, Valley Recognized for “Most Wired” Healthcare

Valley Medical Center is honored to be named a “Most Wired” hospital by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). This is the ninth year Valley Medical Center has made the national Most Wired list.

The CHIME “Digital Health Most Wired” program is designed to elevate the health and care of communities around the world by encouraging the optimal use of information technology. The results are intended to improve patient safety and outcomes by driving change in the healthcare IT industry. See the organizations recognized.

The bar for this award changes every year. This year we achieved stage 9 (on a scale of 1-10) in both the acute and ambulatory areas, which is higher than we scored in 2022! This score reflects how well and thoroughly our direct caregivers utilize technology for better patient outcomes.

What are the benefits of e-consults?

E-consults have many benefits including:

  • Patients get the opinion of a specialist within a day or two, without having to schedule an appointment with a specialist. This is especially helpful for patients who live far away, have limited mobility, and/or have challenges with taking time away from work or family obligations to get to another medical appointment.
  • A patient can start the recommended treatment or prescribed medications right away, rather than having to wait until they see a specialist, which can sometime take weeks or longer.
  • Primary care providers also get updated by the specialist on the most current advanced care and treatment options as part of the consultation.

How long has Valley offered e-consults for patients and what specialties does it include?

Valley started offering e-consults in 2019 and it was launched by Brian Kumasaka, MD, with dermatology. Other specialties include cardiology, endocrinology, infectious disease, obstetrics & gynecology, and vascular surgery. We will soon be adding wound care, and plan to add others in the future.

How does Valley ensure patient privacy for e-consult communication between providers?

E-consult messages, including the advice from the specialist and what your providers decide to do, is kept in your medical record. All e-consult messaging happens in the electronic medical record system, so the information is kept secure just as all patient records are.

Is there a cost for e-consults?

E-consults are usually covered by a patient’s health insurance plan.

Thanks to Shannon Markegard, DO, Family Physician and Associate Medical Director for Primary Care, and Robert Molina, MD, Family Physician and Chief Medical Information Officer, for their contributions to this article and for supporting the e-consult program at Valley.

About The Author

Valley Medical Center's Marketing and Community Outreach Office