e-medicine, primary care, specialty consultation, telemedicine, virtual medicine



  1. Angstman, Kurt B. MD
  2. Adamson, Steven C. MD
  3. Furst, Joseph W. MD
  4. Houston, Margaret S. MD
  5. Rohrer, James E. PhD


Virtual consultations (VCs) are being ordered by primary care physicians in 1 large multispecialty clinic, replacing face-to-face visits with specialists. Virtual consultations involve electronic communication between physicians, including exchanging medical information. The purpose of this study was to assess provider satisfaction with VCs via e-mail survey. Although approximately 30% of the 56 family medicine providers had not tried the VC system after it had been in place for over a year or said that they often forgot that VCs were an option, most of the providers surveyed (73%) felt that VCs provided good medical care. A majority felt that VCs are a cost-effective and efficient tool for our department (65%). Most specialists (81%) reported that VCs were an efficient use of their time, and 67% said that VCs were less disruptive than contacts by telephone or pager. Only 5% felt that VCs do not provide good medical care. Although several of our primary care providers have been enthusiastic about VCs, others have been reluctant to adopt this innovation. Specialists providing VCs tended to be supportive. This illustrates both the difficulty of incorporating e-health innovations in primary care practice and the potential for increased efficiency.