Background: Communication of emergency department (ED) visit information to general practitioners (GP) is often inadequate and can negatively impact on patient care. Further, the use of email as a communication tool between GP and ED providers has been not been well explored.
Objectives: We sought to assess the desirability, feasibility and ideal functionalities of a novel web-based, automated post- ED visit communication tool for GPs.
Methods: A cross-sectional needs assessment survey was conducted among the top 300 referring GPs to a single ED in Toronto, Canada. The main outcome measures were: current GP awareness of patient ED visits and anticipated uptake of an electronic notification and health record communication tool.
Results: One hundred ninety-eight physicians responded (66% response rate). Fifty-eight percent of GPs were unaware or only sometimes aware of patients’ ED visits. Nearly all (94%) would welcome an automated electronic system to communicate post-ED discharge health information in real-time. Two-thirds (67%) were in favour of their patients having online access to their own health records. Physicians less than 50 years of age were more likely than those greater than 50 to use both an office computer with internet and email access (96% versus 69%)and an electronic medical record (EMR;57% versus 41%).
Conclusions: This needs assessment survey highlights an unmet need for improved ED-GP health record communication and suggests that GP uptake of a novel web-based post-ED visit notification and health record transfer system would be high.