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Education and eConsult

Electronic consultation services offer a unique educational opportunity for clinicians as a facilitator of communication between primary and specialty care. The unique type of interaction between providers that is facilitated by electronic consultation services highlights the importance of high-quality correspondence between providers and offers reflective learning opportunities for both Specialists and Primary Care Providers (PCPs). eConsult has the potential to act as an invaluable educational tool for providers by enriching practice-based learning, informing continuing professional development activities, providing opportunities for quality improvement in training programs, and aiding performance assessment to meet accreditation requirements and provide feedback and quality control.

Using eConsult to Develop Continuing Professional Devlopment Tools

Our team has sought to explore the learning opportunities facilitated through our eConsult service. One such study explored the development and application of an assessment tool for measuring the quality of specialist correspondence to primary care providers in eConsult (eSQUARE). Another study explored the development and application of two reflective learning tools, one for PCPs and one for Specialists, adapted from existing Continuing Professional Development tools (IAM Clinician tools). Learn more about these tools below.


eSQUARE is an assessment tool used to measure the quality of specialist responses in electronic consultations. Developed in collaboration between Primary Care Providers and Specialists, this tool leverages previously identified qualities of high-quality specialist responses in order to classify responses as low, medium, or high quality with high reliability measures.

Potential Future Applications:

  • May be leveraged when studying or planning education initiatives aiming to improve specialist-to-PCP correspondence via eConsult

  • Feedback could inform faculty development initiatives aimed at improving specialist-to-PCP communication via eConsult

  • Can be employed to guide new specialists on eConsult services

  • Provision of feedback and quality control

Reflective Learning Toolkit

The reflective learning tools (RLTs) developed facilitate critical self-monitoring, quality improvement, and continuing professional development through the provision of a guided reflection for clinicians.​

Potential Future Applications:

  • RLTs could be used to construct a learning database for clinicians to structure and document their self-learning through reflection both in-practice and on-practice  

  • Development of a mobile application 

  • Output may be incorporated into portfolios of individual learning and self-assessment for maintenance of certification or continuing medical education programs

For more information about the educational opportunities facilitated by eConsult:

  • Archibald D, Liddy C, Lochnan HA, Hendry PJ, Keely E (2018). Using Clinical Questions Asked by Primary Care Providers through eConsults to Inform Continuing Professional Development. The Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions, 38(1), 41-48. doi:  

  • Tran C, Archibald D, Humphrey-Murto S, Liddy C, Keely E (2019, February). What Makes a High Quality Electronic Consultation (eConsult)? A Nominal Group Study. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 1-9. doi:  

  • Liddy C, Abu-Hijleh T, Joschko J, Archibald D, Keely E (2019, July). eConsult and learning between primary care providers and specialists. Family Medicine, 51(7), 567-573.  

  • Tran C, Archibald D, Humphrey-Murto S, Wood TJ, Dudek N, Liddy C, & Keely E (2022). EConsult Specialist Quality of Response (eSQUARE): A novel tool to measure specialist correspondence via electronic consultation. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 28(4), 280-290. doi: 10.1177/1357633X21998216 

  • Archibald D, Grant R, Tuot DS, Liddy C, Sewell JL, Price DW, Grad R, Shipman SA, Campbell C, Guglani S, Wood T, & Keely E (2023). Development of eConsult reflective learning tools for healthcare providers: a pragmatic mixed methods approach. BMC Primary Care, 24(15). doi:10.1186/s12875-022-01948-9

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