E-Consultation in Headache Medicine: A Quality Improvement Pilot Study

Jennifer Robblee, Amaal J. Starling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: Access to headache consultations by a headache specialist is limited. E-consultations are an efficient approach shown to reduce costs and improve continuity of care with the primary care provider. Indications, suitability, and uptake in the headache population are not well studied. Methods: This quality improvement pilot aims to explore the appropriateness of e-consultations for patients referred to a headache specialist. E-consultation feasibility was explored through (1) retrospective review of completed face-to-face consultations; (2) prospective survey of providers to identify face-to-face consultations appropriate for e-consultation; (3) cross-sectional review of the current waiting list to assess theoretical triaging to face-to-face vs e-consultation; and (4) prospective review of all e-consultations requested from an academic headache clinic to improve the understanding of e-consultation feasibility and referral triage. Results: The retrospective review included 75 face-to-face consultations with a mean (SD) wait time of 33 (39.4) days for consultations, of which 28/75 (37.3%) were deemed to be feasible e-consultations. The prospective survey of providers identified 10 face-to-face consultations that were felt to be theoretically appropriate for e-consultation. The cross-sectional review identified 20 patients on the clinic waiting list, of whom 5/20 (25%) were theoretically triaged to e-consultation. Finally, the prospective review found 12 requested e-consultations, of which 6/12 (50%) were for migraine prophylaxis recommendations. Chart data often lacked details for complete assessments, with 5/12 (41.7%) converted to face-to-face consultations and only 4/12 (33.3%) deemed appropriate for e-consultation. Conclusion: E-consultation in headache medicine could be considered if appropriately triaged. Pathways are needed to reach patients earlier in their disease course to ensure headache care meets guideline recommendations, and e-consultation is 1 option. However, better communication with primary care is required for system optimization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2192-2201
Number of pages10
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • e-consultation
  • headache
  • quality improvement
  • referral
  • telemedicine
  • triage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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