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CHEO technology to reduce wait times for specialist consultations

New online consultations at CHEO could drastically reduce wait times for patients who have non-urgent questions for specialists that their family doctors can't answer.

The new eConsult program can also mean that a patient doesn't wait unnecessarily for a consultation at the hospital.

The old system often meant months of waiting, according to CHEO cardiologist Dr. Lillian Lai.

"When we receive a consultation it's through the fax machine and, for elective things that are sort of usually easy things that most family doctors would know the patient is fine but, you know, we should just consult somebody just in case, for us as a specialist we triage those six months to a year later," said Lai.

But the new system allows the family doctor to email the specialist and get a response in no more than a week.

The system is offered through the Champlain Local Integrated Health Network and requires family doctors to go online to register.

By having a consultation through the eConsult program patients can often can avoid a visit to a specialist altogether.

In a recent study 43 per cent of the eConsult cases led to an avoidance of an unnecessary in-person specialist consultation.

Removing those unnecessary visits decreases the wait times for non-urgent patients who do need to see a specialist.

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