News

Online tele-advice requests a big hit with doctors

October 8, 2019

CALGARY -– Almost three out of four family doctors who use Specialist LINK are now requesting tele-advice online instead of by phone.

The non-urgent advice line, which was launched in 2014, connects physicians with specialists in real time. All tele-advice requests are returned within an hour.

Physicians have traditionally accessed Specialist LINK tele-advice by calling 403.910.2552 and using a phone tree to select their preferred specialty or group. But since January 2019, family doctors have also been able to request the service via specialistlink.ca. The popularity of online access has soared. In September 2019, 578 or 71 per cent of the total of 809 tele-advice calls made to physicians were requested via desktop computers, laptops, tablets and mobile devices.

“Online requests have made it quicker and easier for family physicians to access tele-advice,” said Dr. Oliver David, interim physician lead for specialty integration in the Calgary Zone. “The convenience and simplicity of requesting services via their computer or mobile devices has transformed the way in which physicians use Specialist LINK. As more physicians hear about the online option we expect this trend to continue.”

In addition to the number of online requests increasing, the total number of tele-advice calls has also soared, from 491 in September 2018 to 809 a year later. Total visits to www.specialistlink.ca have increased from 1,268 to 2,034 in the past year. The most-requested tele-advice service is rheumatology (89 calls in September), followed by endocrinology (85) and gastroenterology (84).

Requesting tele-advice is simple; doctors can visit specialistlink.ca and click on one of 21 different specialty or sub-specialty buttons. Physicians are asked to enter their name and a direct line or cell phone number. They will receive a call-back within one hour.

Specialist LINK tele-advice can be requested on any device with Internet access. It is not an app. Click here for tips on how to create a shortcut on your phone to the website. Non-urgent advice is available in the following areas:

  • Anesthesiology
  • Chronic pain
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Endocrinology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Gynecology
  • Hepatology
  • Nephrology
  • Neurology
  • OB Internal Medicine
  • Palliative care
  • Pediatrics (Paedlink)
  • Podiatric Surgery
  • Psychiatry
  • Refugee Health 
  • Respirology
  • Rheumatology
  • Spinal Surgery
  • Sports Medicine
  • Urology
  • Vascular Surgery

In addition to offering tele-advice, www.specialistlink.ca is home to 22 pathways and other resources for family physicians. For any technical issues related to Specialist LINK, please call 587.774.9740 or email specialistlink@cfpcn.ca.

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. Calls are returned within one hour. Clinical care pathways are also available. Please visit www.specialistlink.ca for more details.


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