Anyone who follows the Champlain BASE eConsult Service research team here in Ottawa knows that there’s evidence of a lot of benefits to eConsults.  (Don’t believe me? Check out their list of publications!) The potential benefit I’m most interested in is the educational value of eConsults. Hardly a surprise given that I’m doing my PhD in Education.

I think people tend to associate learning from eConsults – if they even consider it at all – with the learning of individual primary care providers (PCPs). PCPs learning from eConsults seems more intuitive. They’ve asked a specialist a question – indicating a knowledge gap – and can learn from the subsequent back-and-forth communication they have with the specialist. This can result in new or refined knowledge for the PCP.

When I first started doing research in this area, I hadn’t thought much about specialists learning from eConsults.  Judging by informal conversations I’ve had with people at conferences, I suspect I’m not the only one. But since starting my PhD and working with the Champlain BASE team, I’ve done a lot more readings on eConsults and education. And I mean a lot of reading. Through this reading and chatting with specialists I’ve come to really appreciate how specialists can learn from eConsults. For example, they may have to look something up to answer a PCP’s question.

There are also broader implications for learning from eConsults. For example, the questions posed by PCPs give us insight into their learning needs, which can be used to plan continuing professional development activities for physicians and nurse practitioners.

eConsult Reflect

Right now I’m working with an international team of researchers to find a way to formalize this learning from eConsults. Using the Champlain BASE eConsult Service in Ontario and SFHN eReferral in San Francisco, we’re creating reflective learning tools that PCPs and specialists can use to guide their reflective learning and document this learning.

To learn more about this project, check out my webinar below:

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Want to Know More About Learning and eConsults?

Archibald, D., Liddy, C., Lochnan, H. A., Hendry, P. J., & Keely, E. (2018). Using clinical questions through eConsults to inform continuing professional development. Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions. [epub ahead of print]

Keely, E., Archibald, D., Tuot, D., Lochnan, H., & Liddy, C. (2017). Unique educational opportunities for PCPs and specialists arising from electronic consultation services. Academic Medicine, 92(1), 45-51.

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