Next steps include expanding the service across Ontario and Canada. We are in discussions with the eHealth services in the provinces of Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as several national agencies representing Canada’s northern communities. The scope of the service is also expanding to include: developing eCase conferencing, eReferral, and specialist-to-specialist eConsultation; examining the impact of eConsult on referral rates (a mixed methods, randomized controlled trial) using provincial funding; improving the care of medically complex patients (grant funded through the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Ontario Medical Association); transitioning the care of stable, medically-complex HIV patients to primary health care services (CIHR team grant, medially complex patient grant); developing the role of pharmacists in the consultation process (pilot funding via a small grant from the Bruyère Research Institute); and implementing a recently funded CIHR Knowledge-to-Action project to evaluate and expand the service across Canada.
Ongoing service costs are being covered by the Champlain LHIN (which provides staff and infrastructure, along with specialist payments), the Bruyère Research Institute, The Ottawa Hospital (which provide infrastructure) and multiple research grants. We are examining the perspectives of patients, PCPs and specialists through these active research projects, and have over 20 academic papers published or accepted for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals.