Guidelines for Specialists


Specialist LINK is a partnership between Primary Care Networks, Alberta Health Services and specialists. Family physicians are connected to specialists via a programmed call-forwarding service. The inbound call can be forwarded directly to your cell phone or pager.

How it works:

  • The specialist’s phone or pager number remains confidential when programmed into Specialist LINK
  • When physicians use the phone line to request tele-advice and the specialist uses a pager, he/she will see code “51” followed by the physician’s call back number
  • When physicians request tele-advice via the website and the specialist uses either a pager or cell phone, the specialist will receive a text message that says, “Specialist Link.” followed by the physician’s name and direct call back number
  • Family physicians can request tele-advice for non-urgent matters. Urgent matters should be directed to the on-call specialist at the appropriate acute care site or, depending on specialty area, RAAPID South at 403-944-4488 or 1-800-661-1700
  • Tele-advice calls generally take five to 10 minutes. They usually involve reviewing the physician’s investigative and management plan
  • It is optimal to call back within one hour of receipt of the request. If unable to answer within one hour, please call and advise on a later time that you will be able to talk. This is an important courtesy, as some family physicians keep their patients in-clinic until the phone consult is completed
  • If a formal clinic consult is required subsequent to the initial conversation, direct the family physician to send a referral to Central Access and Triage (CAT), or the appropriate area
  • Specialist LINK is not intended for discussion about referral status or triage priority. If there is new information or a dispute about triage status for an existing referral, the family physician should be directed to CAT.
  • Share your practice ID number so that the family physician can complete their billing
  • The billing code for physician to physician telehealth is 03.01LJ for specialist physicians ($75.59)
  • Specialists funded through ARP are advised to shadow bill

 Standard of care guideline:

  • Providing collegial advice is considered best practice. The specialist offering advice will need to ask pertinent information in order to provide appropriate advice
  • Physicians and specialists should ideally keep a record of the interaction
  • When the specialist offering advice does not feel he/she has enough information, he/she can decline to provide advice and recommend a direct, face-to-face referral
  • The specialist is accountable with respect to the advice given for patient care; however, this does not mean that the specialist necessarily accepts care or becomes the most responsible physician
  • Providing advice does not constitute an ongoing duty of care to the patient and thus no patient-physician relationship is established when providing advice
  • When specialists providing advice feel that the acuity of the case being discussed is more of an urgent matter, the physician should be directed to RAAPID
  • Providing advice via hallway, phone/eReferral is part of the practice of medicine and physicians are eligible for assistance from the Canadian Medical Protective Association if they have any concerns and/or when a problem arises as a result of participating in this aspect of care
  • For reference – CMPA resource:

 If you have any questions or experience any challenges related to Specialist LINK tele-advice, please contact the Specialist LINK administrator at 587-774-9740 or the Calgary Foothills PCN Program Manager at 403-618-9372. Emails should be sent to

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