Patient perspectives

Specialist LINK is a doctor-to-doctor service that is having a big impact on patients.

Thanks to a tele-advice line, care pathways and other tools and resources available in the Calgary-area, patients are getting the care they need, when they need it, by the right provider. Shorter wait lists, care closer to home, a reduction in unnecessary specialist or hospital visits and ultimately better care are some of the benefits patients are receiving thanks to the innovative service.

Hayley's story

Click the video below to watch Hayley's story about how Specialist LINK made a difference to her care.

How Specialist LINK helped my family

In the animated video below, a patient describes how her family was impacted by Specialist LINK. 

Pathway to a healthy future: Raymond's story

When faced with a difficult dilemma about treatment options for a stomach issue, Raymond decided to do his homework.

“I had a choice to make about which course of treatment to take – it was a very tough decision,” said Raymond, whose family doctor gave him a document from www.specialistlink.ca.

“The treatment came in four stages and for a patient, that can be a bit daunting. My family doctor told me about the enhanced care pathway on Specialist LINK, which included information for patients about medications, side effects and the probability of success. I looked at it very carefully. Having all the information in front of me really helped me make the right decision.”

Specialist LINK is the name of an innovative service that connects family physicians and specialists in the Calgary area. It includes a tele-advice line for doctors, as well as clinical care pathways and other resources. Although the pathways are designed primarily to help guide family physicians, some include information for patients about different courses of treatments, medications and possible side effects, for example.

Raymond, who works in healthcare and has a PhD in management, had been dealing with gastrointestinal issues for several years when he developed chronic hiccups. A referral to a specialist was declined and it was determined that his care could be managed by his family doctor using a care pathway for helicobacter pylori – also known as H. pylori.

“I was very happy that I didn’t need to see a specialist or have surgery,” said Raymond. “The wait times can be very long and there’s no point waiting for something that can be done by your family doctor. Whether you are on the waiting list for one month or six months, it can be excruciating.”

“After reviewing my options we decided on something called the BMT quad, which takes 14 days. I took the time off work and we followed the care pathway.”

The treatment was a success and Raymond was able to return to work while his family doctor continued to care for Raymond using the protocol outlined in the pathway.

“I’m happy and healthy again,” said Raymond. “Having access to information about the care pathway was very helpful because I knew what to expect. It gave me a lot of confidence in the health care system and the plan for my treatment.”

If you have a Specialist LINK story to share, email keith.bradford@cfpcn.ca

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