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.
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.
In the late 2000s Northumberland Hills Hospital experienced repeated budget deficits. The hospital's board needed to cut the hospital's services in order to balance the budget. Ontario's Local Health System Integration Act, 2006, required the hospital to seek public input before changing services. Accordingly, the hospital's board developed a plan, called a collaborative budget strategy -- formally entitled "Shared Challenge, Shared Solution" -- to elicit this public input.
As required by the government of Ontario to involve residents in the decision making process concerning their health care systems after the passing of the Local Health System Integration Act in 2006, the South East Local Health Integration Network (SE LHIN) launched the community engagement phase of their Clinical Services Roadmap project in March of 2011. The project was initiated to gain community feedback and strengthen the health care system in South East Ontario. Residents submitted their opinions concerning seven central focus areas of clinical services in the form on a workbook over an eight week period. The results from the project were incorporated in to the South East LHIN decisions involving services and allocations.
“The South East Local Health Integration Network – from here onwards referred to as SE LHIN – is one of 14 networks established by the Ontario province to plan, manage, and fund the health care system at the local and regional levels in Ontario. The South East region extends from Brighton on the west to Prescott and Cardinal on the east, north to Perth and Smith Falls, and back to Bancroft.” (1) In 2009, the South East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) received a mandate from the Ontario government to engage the local citizens about their healthcare.