Improving Access to Chronic Pain Services Through eConsultation: A Cross-Sectional Study of the Champlain BASE eConsult Service

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Abstract

Objective. To describe the impact of the Champlain BASE (Building Access to Specialists through eConsultation) eConsult service on access to specialist care for patients with chronic pain.

Design. A cross-sectional descriptive study

Setting. The Champlain Local Health Integration Network, comprising Ottawa, Canada, and the surrounding region.

Subjects. All eConsult cases submitted to chronic pain specialists by primary care providers between April 15, 2011 and June 30, 2015.

Methods. Usage data and provider responses to a mandatory closeout survey were analyzed to determine response times, case outcomes, and provider satisfaction.

Results. Ninety-three primary care providers submitted 199 eConsults to four chronic pain specialists during the study period. Submitted cases had median response times of 1.9 days. Thirty-six percent of cases resulted in an unnecessary referral being avoided, and over 90% of cases were rated by primary care providers as being of high or very high value for their patients and themselves.

Conclusion. The eConsult service improved access to specialist care for patients with chronic diseases. By facilitating prompt communication between primary care providers and specialists, eConsult can help mitigate the negative effects of long wait times experienced by patients with chronic pain.

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