CALGARY -- Sports medicine has become the 15th group added to the fast-growing Specialist LINK tele-advice line, which has saved the health care system more than $1 million since it was launched in 2014.
The innovative service, which offers family doctors in the Calgary area same-day access to real-time, non-urgent advice, helps reduce emergency room visits and the number of patients who need face-to-face consultations with specialists. With each call saving an estimated $118, the service surpassed $1 million in savings in September. Based on current growth projections, Specialist LINK is expected to save $1 million a year by 2024.
“Specialist LINK is a good example of what can be achieved when specialty care and primary care work together to improve patient care,” said Dr. Linda Slocombe, chair of the Health Systems Support group that developed Specialist LINK, which is built on a collaboration between specialists, the Calgary area’s seven Primary Care Networks and Alberta Health Services.
“Thanks to the tele-advice line, more patients are receiving the care they need from their family doctor in their medical home and unnecessary ER visits and consultations are being avoided. What we’re seeing in gastroenterology, for example, is that wait lists for specialty care are also being reduced. In addition to saving money, we’re improving access and providing better care.”
Sports medicine tele-advice is available for physicians who need support for conditions including the following:
Diagnosis and management of acute, chronic and degenerative musculoskeletal problems including:
- Tendon and ligament injuries/ruptures
- Joint instability
- Compartment syndromes, bone stress injuries
Prescription of exercise and physical activity for chronic disease management
*Please note: This includes patients of all ages and those with disability. Injuries do not need to be sports-related.
Conditions not appropriate for this service include acute or chronic bone fractures, post-surgical complications and bone, joint and soft tissue infections.
To request sports medicine advice, physicians should call Specialist LINK at 403-910-2551 or toll-free at 1-844-962-5465, from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and press 1-5. Calls are returned within one hour. Physicians or staff should leave a direct line or cellphone for the physician to be reached at and make sure the physician has the patient’s personal health number at hand.
Sports medicine is one of 15 groups or specialty areas available via the tele-advice line. Click here to view the phone tree, which acts a quick reference guide to the services available and how to access them. You can also click here to find out which non-urgent advice services are available via Specialist LINK and eReferral Advice Requests.
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. Call 403-910-2551 or toll-free at 1-844-962-5465. Calls are returned within one hour. Clinical care pathways are also available. Please visit www.specialistlink.ca for more details.