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Enhancing continuity of information: essential components of consultation reports


Objective — To identify elements of data that have been shown to contribute to continuity of information between primary care providers and medical specialists providing care to adult asthma patients.

Design — Systematic review of the literature followed by a 2-round modified Delphi consensus process.

Setting — Province of Ontario.

Participants — Eight expert panelists, including 3 practising family physicians, a medical specialist knowledgeable in the treatment of asthma, a family physician previously involved in provincial initiatives related to primary care reform, an e-health technologist, a developer of evidence-based guidelines, and an operations and programs specialist.

Methods — We completed a systematic literature review to identify important components of consultation reports. We then engaged an 8-member panel in a 2-round modified Delphi consensus process, which led to the identification of components deemed essential to good continuity of information.

Main Findings — After 2 rounds, expert panelists reached consensus on 15 components, referred to here as minimum essential elements, of consultation reports generated by medical specialists in response to referring primary care providers' consultation requests.

Conclusion — The expert panelists considered inclusion of the minimum essential elements in consultation reports essential to achieving good continuity of information. We assembled these elements in a suggested format for a consultation report. The format can be easily modified by practitioners caring for patients with other chronic diseases.



Berta W, Barnsley J, Bloom J, Cockerill R, Davis D, Jaakkimainen L, Mior AM, Talbot Y, Vayda E. Can Fam Physician. 2009; 55(6):624-5.e1-5.

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