News

COVID tele-advice, pathway added to Specialist LINK

April 7, 2020

CALGARY –- A primary care pathway and tele-advice line have been launched to support family physicians in the Calgary area to care for presumed and confirmed COVID-19 positive patients.

The COVID pathway, which is posted at specialistlink.ca, provides evidence-based support to assist physicians to care for patients safely and effectively. The cornerstone of the pathway is self-isolation, supportive care and vigilance for deterioration of symptoms. Please note that with evidence changing almost daily, this pathway is based on available information and resources applicable to the Calgary Zone at the time of writing. It is subject to change and will be reviewed and updated regularly.

COVID tele-advice is also available via Specialist LINK, which connects specialists with family doctors in real time. Requesting COVID tele-advice is simple – doctors can visit specialistlink.ca during business hours and click on the COVID button. Alternatively, physicians can call 403.910.2551 and press 8-1 to request tele-advice. The service is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Friday (except statutory holidays); physicians can expect to receive a call-back within one hour.

The COVID tele-advice line is supported by specialists from Respirology, General Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease. Questions appropriate for this service could include the following:

  • My patient has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and I’m not sure if this is COVID or Acute Exacerbation of COPD. Start on Prednisone or not?
  • My patient sounds dehydrated, where should I send them?
  • My patient is older and getting sicker but doesn’t want to go to hospital. Is there anything I can do?
  • They’ve had symptoms for two weeks, not getting any worse. Should I do a chest x-ray?

There are currently 28 tele-advice services available to physicians in the Calgary area via Specialist LINK. Four new services have been added in the past week -- COVID, Plastic Surgery, Hematology and Infectious Disease. More will be launched in the coming weeks. There are also 27 care pathways.

A third option available to physicians is eReferral Advice Requests, through Alberta Netcare. For non-urgent questions requiring advice within 48 hours, visit albertanetcare.ca/eReferral.htm. For general enquiries, physicians can also email access.referral@ahs.ca or call 1.888.733.3755.

For more information about these tools and others being developed to support family physicians in the Calgary area, please look out for this week’s Calgary Zone PCN newsletter and contact your local PCN.

About Specialist LINK

Specialist LINK was launched in 2014 as part of a collaboration between Calgary and area Primary Care Networks, specialists and Alberta Health Services. A non-urgent tele-advice line for family physicians is available Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for chronic pain), excluding statutory holidays. Tele-advice can be requested at specialistlink.ca or by calling 403-910-2551 or toll-free at 1-844-962-5465. Requests are returned within one hour. Clinical care pathways are also available. Please visit specialistlink.ca for more details.


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