The Calgary Zone’s popular Specialist Link tele-advice service reached an important milestone recently when it passed 100,000 calls.
Launched in 2014, the provider-only service supports family physicians and nurse practitioners to care for their patients by connecting them in real time with specialists and other experts. This summer, Specialist Link celebrated its 100,000th call. As of Wednesday, September 27, it had facilitated more than 105,000 calls in total since 2014.
“Specialist Link tele-advice is a vital service that family physicians in the Calgary area have come to rely on in their daily practice,” said Dr. Niki Panich, co-chair of the specialty integration task group that oversees the service, which is a partnership between Alberta Health Services and the seven Calgary and area Primary Care Networks.
“Passing 100,000 calls is an incredible milestone that is a testament to the spirit of collaboration between specialty and primary care, which has helped support physicians, reduce unnecessary or inappropriate referrals, enhance access and ultimately improve patient care.”
The very first tele-advice phone line available via Specialist Link offered gastroenterology advice. Family doctors immediately started seeing the benefits of collaborating with a specialist to confirm treatment plans. Services quickly expanded to include chronic pain, endocrinology, hepatology, neurology, pediatrics, respiratory and rheumatology.
Specialist Link continues to grow and add new specialties. Today, 50 tele-advice services are available to doctors and nurse practitioners in the Calgary Zone. The website also offers clinical care pathways and other resources that support providers to care for their patients. Requesting tele-advice is simple: Simply go to specialistlink.ca, request a service and expect a call-back within one hour.
“I’d like to say a big thank you to the speciality groups that have worked with us to telephone advice. We recently upgraded to a digital phone system and continue to improve the service, both for the specialists hosting the calls and the family doctors and nurse practitioners requesting them,” said program manager Yolanda Martens-Vanhilst, the lead for Specialist Link. “We’re excited to continue to add more advice options and build a stronger, more comprehensive service in the years to come.”