How does eConsult work?

eConsult is easy for patients and practices

eConsult lets your patients consult with their own NHS GP online by completing a quick form that is sent and reviewed by the practice. We can also direct the patient to self-help, pharmacy advice and local self-referral services.

01

Set-up

  • We designed eConsult to be as simple as possible: just add a banner to your existing practice website
  • We share our extensive experience of best practices to tailor eConsult to your needs. We are fully interoperable with your clinical system
  • The more your patients use it, the bigger the benefits you’ll see

02

Your patients’ eConsult experience

  • Patients can choose self-help or pharmacy advice for their condition, and​ send through an admin request online or self-refer to local services
  • If patients want advice from their doctor, they can submit a short form and photograph (if relevant) about their symptoms or condition which is sent to the practice
  • eConsult captures over 100 common clinical conditions, with built-in red flags to highlight critical symptoms that may require immediate or urgent intervention

03

You receive the patient’s eConsult

  • eConsult reports are sent securely as a short PDF directly into the clinical system, to be triaged by your staff as appropriate
  • Standardised questions mean nothing is missed, and allows GPs to familiarise themselves with the reports
  • Having a patient history up front means you can quickly decide on the next steps, with only around 30% patients needing a face-to-face follow up

How to use econsult

Feel unwell, or have a request for the practice? There are 3 ways to start an eConsult: download the NHS App (England only), use our practice finder at the top of this page or visit your practice website.
Choose the relevant section for your need or request.
Fill out the information requested and submit your eConsult. Questions may change depending on what you input.
Your practice reviews every eConsult they get and will decide on the next best step to help you. This means you may not need to visit the practice for an appointment.

Patient Benefits of eConsult

There is no need to change surgery to get digital first access. Patients complete an online GP consultation with their own practice when they need to
Medical advice is available 24/7 even when the practice is closed – Patients can check their health symptoms online and receive on the spot medical advice and treatment guidance thanks to NHS Choices content
Patients will get a response from their own NHS GP practice by the end of the next working day or sooner
Access wherever and whenever patients want from any device. Unlike a telephone call patients can complete an eConsult at a pace that suits them, without taking up practice time
Patients can request sick notes and test results without the need for an appointment saving patient and practice time

eConsult delivers full compliance and state-of-the-art security

CLINICAL GOVERNANCE
eConsult is safe. eConsult always alerts patients who report a serious symptom or a medical emergency. Our red flag system immediately directs patients to seek the most appropriate care.

Our Clinical Governance board comprises of NHS GPs, clinicians and specialists. The board meets regularly to undertake content reviews and ensure that eConsult always adheres to the latest guidance and the highest safety standards.

Our Clinical Governance Lead and Information Governance Lead meet monthly to maintain our hazard logs and safety case, and identify any new potential risks or Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) requirements.

Following the MHRA guidance on medical devices, we have appointed a Medical Safety Officer, and applied the standards defined in DCB0129/DCB0160 and will continue to do so.

We are proud winners and finalists of several Patient Safety Awards.

DATA SECURITY
  • We encrypt patient details for their entire journey into your practice
  • We do not store any patient-identifiable medical information
  • Built on top of a secure framework, our platform has protection against typical website attacks (e.g. XSS, SQL and HTML injections)
  • We score highly on regular pen tests with independent, external providers
  • CISSP-certified architect configured infrastructure

  • All interactions with the website are via a secure connection, using up-to-date encryption techniques (TLS v1.2, strong key exchange and strong cypher)
COMPLIANCE
GDPR:

  • We use consent as our lawful basis for processing patient data
  • We have written our privacy notice in plain English, and made clear the legal rights of the patient
  • We have appointed a Data Protection Officer, in line with our responsibilities for handling sensitive data

NHS compliance:

  • We are DSP Toolkit compliant (for all mandatory sections and all optional sections)
  • We comply with the National Data Guardian recommendations
  • Our platform is hosted in a Tier 3, ISO 27001 Data Centre, behind HSCN
  • We are ITK compliant and certified to send data to the GPSoC providers over MESH
MEDICAL INDEMNITY

Medical Indemnity
The Clinical Negligence Scheme for General Practice (CNSGP) covers activities which are commissioned under a GMS, PMS or APMS contract (or related enhanced primary care elements under an NHS Standard Contract), and where a provider provides services directly or under a sub-contracat.

The scheme coverage extends to nurses/ANPs and other practice staff who are carrying out activities in connection with the delivery of primary medical services. The location of the services being provided and whether they are digital or face-to-face will not affect the cover.

The services/consultations must be being provided via a GMS/PMS/APMS contract and the consultations themselves must be connected to the diagnosis, care or treatment of a patient.

 

Guidance of relevance from other bodies:

RCGP: Key principles for intimate clinical assessments undertaken remotely in response to COVID-19 (July 2019)

Why use eConsult

eConsult is a clever bit of software that allows you to quickly and safely get help and advice from your own doctors
and GP practice online, for free, from anywhere.

Community

By submitting an eConsult your doctors can make sure every patient gets the right care, saving appointments for those that need them. If you can use eConsult it means you free up the phone line for those who are not able to use the internet.

Reassurance

We don’t always know what is wrong with us, which is why we go to the doctors. By submitting an eConsult you give you doctors all the information they need to decide on the right care for you and your family.

Speed/Access

eConsult is available to use any time, day or night, from any device connected to the internet. There is no need to wait in a phone queue or visit the practice. It takes just 3-4 minutes to complete an eConsult and your practice will get back to you within 1 working day, if not sooner.

eConsult FAQs

What is eConsult?
It is an new way to request medical care and fit notes at a time convenient to you. You can complete an eConsult form anytime and there is no need to be waiting on the telephone on hold to arrange an appointment, and the surgery will get back to you within a stated timeframe. It enables you to provide key information about your condition before your appointment which is really helpful to doctors and nurses. Also improves telephone access for vulnerable patients who can’t use online services by decreasing phone call waiting times.
Where can I get help in using eConsult?
The form will provide you with instructions on how to complete it as you fill it in, and you can also watch this tutorial on YouTube for more information – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1-LQI1f0TI
Is it easy to use eConsult?
Yes – it is as straightforward as using online shopping, banking or social media.
Does eConsult mean I won’t see my GP?
If you need to have a GP consultation, you will still have one with your GP (or another clinician at the practice if necessary). All eConsults submitted relating to a health issue will be looked at by a clinician, who will decide next course of action. If you need a consultation with a GP, you’ll have one (it could be in person, over the phone or through a video consultation). Admin requests e.g. fit note requests may be looked at by a member of the admin team, freeing up the doctors’ time.
Do I need an account and password?
No, you just use the eConsult portal on the GP surgery website. New feature includes NHS Login which means that you can use your existing NHS password to submit an eConsult. That helps practices match your online consultation with your previous records. Another way to submit an eConsult is through the NHS App.

How can I use eConsult when I don’t have a computer, tablet or smartphone?
eConsult is only available online, but you can still telephone the GP surgery in the same way you always have. Practice receptionists will talk you through a questionnaire and complete an eConsult on your behalf if you do not have online access.

Do I need to be registered to the GP surgery I send an eConsult to?
Yes.
How much does eConsult cost me to use?
eConsult is free to use.
Can I submit an eConsult out of GP surgery opening hours?
Yes – but the eConsult will be only processed normally during normal surgery hours. If it is a medical emergency, you should call 111 or visit your local walk-in centre or emergency department as appropriate.

How does self-referral work?
​Certain categories of illness such as joint/muscle pain, sexual health and mental health are linked to local services that you can self refer to without going through your GP. You need to click your symptom e.g. anxiety, and one of the options offered to you will be a self referral to a local service. Click on that and you are taken to their services and support options.

What happens if I submit a medical request through the administrative eConsult form?
If you do this, the admin team will contact you and ask you to complete a medical eConsult. This may cause a delay in you receiving the treatment or care you need. ​When you submit an eConsult, under the admin pathway, there is a disclaimer explaining that you are requesting admin support and not medical care which should prevent this from happening – breaching this means that you are liable for any clinical risk.
What can I do if I can't find my condition on the list?
If you can’t find your condition on the form list, please use the general advise template to submit your medical query
Can I provide feedback to my Practice for eConsult?
Yes. Every time you submit an eConsult you can opt in to provide feedback. Your GP practices will receive monthly
reports with your anonymous feedback.​ eConsult and your GP use this feedback to improve the service.
Is my personal medical data secure with eConsult?
Yes. All eConsult know is your name, email address and which GP surgery you are registered with. They cannot see what you tell your doctor in the eConsult form. When the user (the patient/parent/guardian) is uploading a photo to eConsult they must provide consent to do so. All photo upload questions are optional and do not need to be completed by the user. Under data protection law, your practice is the Data Controller, therefore any images received and uploaded into the clinical record will fall under the practice information governance and GDPR policies. eConsult doesn’t store or retain any of these images.
Are eConsults safe?
All eConsult templates are created by a range of medical professionals and the content is approved through their Clinical Governance process. The team meets regularly, led by the Medical Director and Clinical Lead for Urgent and Emergency Care. This allows the multidisciplinary team to focus on both clinical and patient safety.
Clinical Governance feedback is monitored 24/7. Any clinical incidents receive a full investigation by the Clinical team, the investigation is shared with the GP practice involved as we believe in an open, honest and transparent process.
Why do I get diverted to other Services 111/Urgent Care?
eConsult has been designed by GPs and patient safety is its primary concern. If the system feels that your symptoms are serious, it will suggest that you contact 111 or 999 who will be better placed to give you the immediate and urgent care you need they are the best placed to give you immediate and urgent care.