Department of Medicine eConsults
What are eConsults?
eConsults allow clinicians to communicate with specialists about focused patient questions. eConsults are like curbside consults but can occur without the referring clinician and specialist already knowing each other and being available at the same place and time. Also, unlike curbside consults, specialists can review relevant clinical information before offering their opinions, generate a formal document in the electronic health record, and get “credit” for their work.
Patients benefit from fast, convenient, and low-cost access to specialists’ expertise. Referring clinicians can expand their scope of practice, learn, and coordinate care more closely. And, by reducing unnecessary in-person consultations, eConsults free-up specialists for other activities, such as evaluating patients with more complicated conditions and performing procedures.
When to use eConsults?
eConsults are for focused clinical questions that specialists can answer using solely the information available in Epic, without seeing the patient.
eConsults are not for logistical questions nor questions that can be easily answered by consulting UpToDate or clinical guidelines. Because specialists have two business days to respond, eConsults are not for emergencies. Additionally, eConsults should not be used to ask follow-up questions for patients who have been previously seen by the specialty practice.
Who can use eConsults?
Any UNC Health physician or advanced practice provider can order an outpatient eConsult to the 11 participating UNCFP Department of Medicine specialties. You can see examples of the types of questions appropriate for each specialty.
What is the workflow?
The ordering clinician should first discuss the eConsult with their patient and explain that the eConsult may entail out-of-pocket costs, which are generally much lower than office-based consultation costs (e.g., co-pay and co-insurance, not to mention time, travel and parking – see link below). If the patient agrees to pay these potential costs, the clinician should directly order the eConsult in Epic. A specialist will review the request and the ordering clinician will receive an Epic InBasket response within two business days.