Responding to feedback, we have updated clause 1(e) of the Continuity of Care standard of practice. This clause enables physicians to make arrangements with a service or clinic as part of their system for ensuring after-hours continuity of care. The change is as follows:
“…if using a recorded message to direct patients to a healthcare provider or service such as, but not limited to, Health Link Alberta, an emergency service or after-hours medical clinic, have written evidence of an agreement with the identified healthcare provider or service…”
What does this change mean?
You must have an agreement with any healthcare provider or service you are using for after-hours coverage:
- A written agreement is considered best practice, to ensure responsibilities are clear and transparent.
- Alternatively, you must be able to provide documentary evidence of an agreement, if asked (e.g., an email between a regulated member and a healthcare provider or service, or a letter outlining coverage details).
Health Link and AHS emergency services are available to all Albertans. You can direct patients to Health Link or an emergency service without an agreement, but only if your message also includes direct contact information for yourself or another physician available to respond to urgent medical needs or critical test results.
Before seeking an agreement with Health Link, please be aware:
- Health Link is only able to consider agreements with large clinical groups (e.g., PCNs, specialty groups provincially, or by zone) that meet specific criteria. Health Link is not a viable option for solo or small practices.
- Health Link does require a physician to be available after-hours to take calls referred by Health Link nurses.
- Health Link can’t manage diagnostic test results, and Health Link nurses don’t have access to Netcare or EMRs. Regulated members who have an agreement with Health Link must make other arrangements for receiving and responding to critical test results.
Please refer to the Continuity of Care Advice to the Profession document for more information.
Questions or comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.