Access to high quality, specialty care can be challenging. Now, a new tool from the UNC Department of Medicine makes it much easier.

“Any UNC physician and advanced practice provider can now use eConsults for fast specialty input on focused clinical questions,” said Spencer Dorn, MD, MPH, MHA, associate professor of medicine in the division of gastroenterology and hepatology, recently named vice chair of care innovation for the department of medicine.

“eConsults are, in essence, a digitized version of the ‘curbside consults’ that have long been a mainstay of clinical practice. But, eConsults are generally more convenient because the referring clinician and specialist do not need to know each other nor be available at the same place and time. Also, eConsults enable specialists to review relevant clinical information before offering their opinions and formally document their recommendations in the electronic health record.”

eConsult logo

All UNC physicians and advanced practice providers can now use Epic to request an eConsult from any Department of Medicine specialty, including allergy and immunology, cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology and hepatology, geriatrics, hematology, infectious diseases, nephrology, oncology, pulmonary, and rheumatology. Within two business days, specialists will make specific evaluation and management recommendations, or when necessary, recommend an in-person consultation.

Since launching the program in March, Department of Medicine physicians have completed more than 200 eConsults. So far, 80% of the time a clinic visit has not been necessary and 100% of referring physicians report being satisfied.

“eConsults may enhance care for everyone involved,” Dorn said. “Patients receive expert recommendations quickly, without the time, travel, and cost of a clinic visit. Referring clinicians can expand their scope of practice and coordinate care more closely. And, by reducing unnecessary in-person consultations, eConsults free-up specialists to evaluate patients with more complicated conditions and perform procedures.”

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