What is an eReferral / eConsult?

eReferrals simplify the referral process by allowing your primary care providers to send requests quickly and securely to specialists and other organizations electronically. Patient referrals are created, submitted, tracked and managed on an electronic platform. This system replaces the traditional method of sending paper-based referrals through fax or mail.

eConsults are virtual meetings through secure messaging or video conferencing platforms that allow health care providers to seek advice from specialists on behalf of patients without the need for a face-to-face appointment. Your primary care provider can then provide you with more timely care or treatment based on the specialist’s advice or recommend an in-person visit if necessary.

eReferrals and eConsults improve the quality of care patients receive, reducing delays in treatment and administrative burden that clinicians face when using more traditional methods. For patients, this means more timely, consistent care across settings and jurisdictions (provinces and territories).


eReferrals and eConsults are digital tools that improve the quality of care you receive, reducing delays in treatment and administrative burden that clinicians face when using more traditional methods.

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The pan-Canadian eReferral/eConsult (CA:eReC)

The pan-Canadian eReferral/eConsult Interoperability Specification (CA:eReC) provides the details needed for health technology vendors to understand and update health information systems so that they can create, submit and receive eReferrals and eConsults.

In 2024, Canada Health Infoway and partners began a three-year initiative to develop the necessary clinical standards and technical requirements to implement eReferrals and eConsults across the country.

The initiative is supported by federal government funding and in partnership with provincial and territorial authorities, health technology firms, and the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

Why are referrals and consultations going digital?

Referrals and consultations are a crucial part of holistic patient care. While many health systems have introduced electronic systems, many clinicians still depend on faxes, their own network of trusted colleagues, and/or electronic services that don’t always communicate well with one another. As a result, patients are often left wondering about the status of their referrals and treatment plan.

The shift from paper-based to digital referrals and consults is long overdue. The transition will allow healthcare providers to improve coordination and workflow, reduce the burden of paperwork, ensure prompt access to specialists, and ultimately provide more dedicated time for your care.

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