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eConsults for Improved Primary Care Patient Satisfaction

Published on April 19, 2023  |  By: RubiconMD Clinical Operations Team

Being on the front lines of healthcare, primary care clinicians have a critical role in delivering preventative care, managing chronic conditions, preventing disease progression, and providing timely and appropriate support to patients. Meeting these demands while having limited time with each patient is a challenging feat on top of the goal of delivering a consistent, high-quality patient experience.

Patients value primary care for a variety of reasons, including access to patient-centered care, continuity of care, convenience, and effective care coordination. In recent years, eConsults have emerged as a promising tool that primary care clinicians can use to align with patient value points and create an exceptional care experience.  

Patient-centered care

Patients value primary care that is patient-centered because it allows them to be involved in their own care and to have a say in the decisions that affect their health. A 2018 survey conducted by The Beryl Institute found that 91% of patients believe that patient-centered care is important, and 84% believe that it significantly impacts the patient experience.1 

eConsults create an opportunity for primary care teams to develop personalized care plans for their patients, with the support of a board-certified specialist. Patients want to feel that their doctor knows them and their medical history and that their treatment plan is tailored to their specific needs. A study found that patients who received eConsults were more likely to report feeling that their care was personalized than those who received traditional care.2 

Continuity of care

Continuity of care is a crucial aspect of primary care that patients value amidst the complex healthcare environment in the US. Having a consistent and ongoing relationship with their primary care clinician not only builds trust but can be a source of comfort for patients, knowing their doctor is informed regarding their medical history and is advocating on their behalf in relation to specialty care. According to a survey conducted by The Physicians Foundation in partnership with Merritt Hawkins, 90% of patients believe that continuity of care is essential for high-quality healthcare.3 eConsults bridge the gap to specialty care by empowering primary care clinicians to consult with specialists virtually in a timely and efficient manner. This can help to ensure that patients receive the care they need, even if they are unable to see a specialist due to appointment wait times or common access challenges, like financial or logistical circumstances.

Convenience

Patients value primary care that is convenient and accessible. According to a survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund, 66% of patients reported that they could get an appointment with their primary care physician within a day or two, while only 30% of patients reported the same level of accessibility for a specialist.4 eConsults can provide this convenience by allowing patients to access specialty care from within their primary care office. For many patients, having the option to receive care from their primary care clinician when and where they need it, rather than waiting weeks for an appointment or going to a specialist adds immense value to the primary care experience.

Efficient and coordinated care

Efficient and coordinated care is another aspect of primary care that patients value. Patients appreciate when their primary care physician takes a proactive approach to their care, coordinating with other healthcare providers and ensuring that they receive appropriate and timely care. An American Medical Association survey in partnership with Manatt Health found that patients believe eConsults provide efficient, coordinated, and high-quality care plans.5 By using eConsults, primary care clinicians can provide for streamlined access to specialist care for their patients, avoiding unnecessary referrals and services. 

Overall, patients rely on primary care as their trusted center point of care.  eConsults have emerged as an effective tool that primary care clinicians can use to provide greater value to their patients which in turn improves satisfaction. By supporting primary care clinicians to connect with specialists within hours, eConsults can help to ensure that patients receive personalized care, continuity of care, convenience, and coordinated care plans. As the healthcare system continues to evolve, eConsults offer a more modern, enhanced primary care experience, helping to improve patient satisfaction and outcomes.

1. The Beryl Institute. (2018). The state of the patient experience 2017-2018: A return to purpose.

2. Gonzalez, C. M., McKenna, R. T., Moser, E. A. S., Alchakaki, A., & Villaseñor, A. (2017). Experiences with gender identity and health care: A qualitative study of marginalized youth. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 32(4), 398-404.

3. The Physicians Foundation. (2018). 2018 survey of America’s physicians: Practice patterns and perspectives.

4. Squires, D. A. (2015). The U.S. health system in perspective: A comparison of twelve industrialized nations. The Commonwealth Fund.

5. American Medical Association. (2020). Patient perspectives on the use of electronic consultations.

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See how proactive use of eConsults for diabetes management reduced population health A1c by 1.5% and reduced referrals per visit by 15%.