Specialist Link is a partnership between Primary Care Networks, Alberta Health Services and specialists. Family physicians are connected to specialists via a programmed call-forwarding service. The inbound call can be forwarded directly to your cell phone or pager.

How it works:

  • The specialist’s or Nurse Practioner's phone or pager number remains confidential when programmed into Specialist Link

  • When physicians connect through specialistlink.ca you will receive a text message, 'SL' with the physician name, practice ID number and direct call back phone number. Please note that when physicians request tele-advice by phone, you only will receive a message with direct call back phone number

  • Family physicians can request tele-advice for non-urgent matters. Urgent matters should be directed to the on-call specialist at the appropriate acute care site or, depending on specialty area, RAAPID South at 403-944-4488 or 1-800-661-1700

  • Tele-advice calls generally take five to 10 minutes. They usually involve reviewing the physician’s investigative and management plan

  • It is optimal to call back within one hour of receipt of the request. If unable to answer within one hour, please call and advise on a later time that you will be able to talk. This is an important courtesy, as some family physicians keep their patients in-clinic until the phone consult is completed

  • If a formal clinic consult is required subsequent to the initial conversation, direct the family physician to send a referral to Central Access and Triage (CAT), or the appropriate area

  • Specialist Link is not intended for discussion about referral status or triage priority. If there is new information or a dispute about triage status for an existing referral, the family physician should be directed to CAT.

  • Share your practice ID number so that the family physician can complete their billing

  • Specialists funded through ARP are advised to shadow bill

  • For those calling physicians from AHS telephones at hospital sites, there is a new long distance code that can be used in connection with Specialist Link: 1334. The format is 116-1334-9-1- (xxx) xxx-xxxx. The code can be used at the following sites: FMC, RGH, PLC, SHC, ACH, RRDTC.

  • Please maintain the confidentiality and privacy of individuals while collecting and using information in compliance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Alberta), Health Information Act (Alberta) and other applicable legislation and regulations.

    • Comply with the AHS Mobile Devices and Services Policy and if you are using your own mobile device comply with the AHS Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program

    • Delete all text messages from participating Specialist Link physicians and specialists from your mobile devices after completing the call

 Standard of care guideline:

  • Providing collegial advice is considered best practice. The specialist offering advice will need to ask pertinent information in order to provide appropriate advice

  • Physicians and specialists/NPs should ideally keep a record of the interaction

  • When the specialist/NP offering advice does not feel he/she has enough information, he/she can decline to provide advice and recommend a direct, face-to-face referral

  • The specialist/NP is accountable with respect to the advice given for patient care; however, this does not mean that the specialist necessarily accepts care or becomes the most responsible physician

  • Providing advice does not constitute an ongoing duty of care to the patient and thus no patient-physician relationship is established when providing advice

  • When specialists/NPs providing advice feel that the acuity of the case being discussed is more of an urgent matter, the physician should be directed to RAAPID

  • Providing advice via hallway, phone/eReferral is part of the practice of medicine and physicians are eligible for assistance from the Canadian Medical Protective Association if they have any concerns and/or when a problem arises as a result of participating in this aspect of care

  • For reference – CMPA resource: https://www.cmpa-acpm.ca/en/advice-publications/browse-articles/2019/if-a-colleague-relies-on-your-professional-opinion-you-may-have-a-duty-of-care

 If you have any questions or experience any challenges related to Specialist Link tele-advice, please email the Specialist LINK administrator at [email protected].