Everyone needs some expert advice from time to time, including our physicians. Now, thanks to a brand new service, doctors in Saskatoon don’t have to look far to get it.
The Leveraging Immediate Non-urgent Knowledge telephone service (LINK) allows family physicians across Saskatchewan to quickly get in touch with a specialist over the phone regarding patient issues that may fall out of their realm of expertise, such as mental health.
“The LINK program is an asset for patients as well as physicians,” said Tracy Muggli, Director of Mental Health and Addictions for Saskatoon Health Region. “Many family doctors are the first line of contact for patients dealing with mental health issues. These are complex concerns and may need additional support from a specialist.”
The LINK program allows family doctor to have access to this advice in a quick telephone consultation. It gives doctors the ability to provide recommendations to the patient sooner, and potentially eliminating the need for a referral, an unnecessary prescription or even a future visit to the emergency department.
As of today, the program focuses on adult psychiatry; however there are plans to add more specialties to the LINK service in the coming months, like child psychiatry. The program will eventually feature specialties related to fields outside of mental health as well.
Family physicians can access LINK during office hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) through the Acute Care Access Line (ACAL) service in Saskatoon Health Region. Doctors simply have to identify that they are requesting a LINK non-urgent call and they will be directed to the LINK specialist on-call.
Another great resource for mental health patients is the Internet-delivered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (I-CBT) program developed and supported by the University of Regina and the Ministry of Health, and facilitated by mental health practitioners from Regional Health Authorities across the province. The I-CBT program provides online clinical treatment for adults suffering from anxiety and depression at no cost to the patient.
Clients of the program can be located across the province and are paired with a therapist for an eight week period. During that time, they work through the online program to help manage their specific health issues. The program is especially beneficial for rural patients as it eliminates a commute for a face-to-face visit with a specialist, and allows the client to get much-needed help, faster.
Those interested in participating in the program can access the service at www.onlinetherapyuser.ca.
With files from the Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan Newsletter