News

The Specialist LINK success story continues

June 10, 2020

CALGARY – Family doctors turned to Specialist LINK in record numbers last year as the service experienced an unprecedented surge in growth and popularity.

Tele-advice requests, pathway downloads and visits to specialistlink.ca -- the core services available to physicians in the Calgary area through Specialist LINK -- all soared in the 12 months from April 2019 to March 2020.

These and other highlights from the Specialist LINK annual report are featured below and in a one-page summary that can be downloaded here, or by clicking on the image at right.

Specialist LINK, a collaboration between Primary Care Networks and Alberta Health Services, was launched in 2014 to connect family doctors with specialists and provide resources to support physicians to care for their patients in the Medical Home or community.

Highlights from the annual report include:

  • 10,640 tele-advice calls in 2019-20, a 65% increase compared to the previous year 
  • Eight new tele-advice specialties were added
  • 83% of tele-advice requests were made online, compared to 17% by phone
  • 7,129 patients no longer needed a consultation with a specialist following tele-advice, a 146% increase compared to 2018-19
  • A further 4,894 patients avoided a visit to the emergency department, which represents a 322% increase compared to the previous year
  • Tele-advice projected net system savings of $1.57 million last year, an increase of 206% compared to the previous year
  • It is estimated that tele-advice has saved the system $2.81 million since it was launched in 2014
  • Website views also increased by 23% and visits were up 40% to more than 24,000
  • Care and access pathways were downloaded 12,913 times, an increase of 34%

Click here to view 'by the numbers' reports and detailed annual reports for 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Specialist LINK includes a tele-advice line, clinical care pathways and other resources designed to support family physicians to care for their patients. Requesting tele-advice is simple; doctors can either log on to www.specialistlink.ca or call 403.910.2551. Physicians can expect to receive a call-back within one hour.

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, child and adolescent and geriatric psychiatry; COVID lines are also open on weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), excluding statutory holidays. Calls are returned within one hour. Clinical care pathways are also available. Please visit www.specialistlink.ca for more details.


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