An online consultation or e-consultation is the use of electronic computing and communication technologies in consultation processes. Online consultations can be effective tools in encouraging participation and gathering responses to consultation documents and social policy issues as part of a broader range of methodologies. This form of participation has no minimum or maximum amount of individuals who can participate. It also usually allows participants the freedom of selecting what time to engage in participation and how often.
The case study features online consultations and in person hearings intended to reform the mental health, mental illness and addiction services in the Canadian healthcare system. The study, conducted by The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, includes four reports. The final report made 118 recommendations to reform the mental health and illness and addiction services.
In the late 1990s several policy issues concerning the Canadian public health care system became the subject of public debate in Canada. These included the rising costs of the system, including cost per capita; which level of government should bear rising costs; whether and what forms of privatization should be introduced; delays in receiving treatment; the quality of treatment; differences in access to treatments in different provinces (so-called "uneven coverage"); and the extent to which health care service delivery was disaggregated.
The purpose of the Citizens’ Dialogue on Public Health Goals in Canada was to enable a randomly selected and representative sample of 102 citizen-participants to meet in-person and face-to-face to determine what they believed should be "public health goals for Canada." The participants' determinations respecting these goals were to inform the Canadian federal and provincial governments' development of a "public health strategy" for Canada.
The purposes of the CommonGround public deliberations in the U.S. state of New Mexico were to demonstrate a new mode of policy communication between New Mexico's citizens and civic leaders, and to create policy guidelines that could inform changes to early childhood development and education policy in New Mexico, changes intended to foster improved social outcomes for New Mexico's children.