Nova Scotia Launches HealthLink 811

Department of Health (To Jan. 11)

July 29, 2009 1:07 PM

NOTE: A social media version of this release, including photographs, audio and video clips, will be available later today, July 29, at gov.ns.ca/news/smr/2009-07-29-healthlink.asp .

Nova Scotians can now dial 811 and be confident health advice and information will be waiting on the other end of the line.

HealthLink 811, the province's new 24-hour, seven-days-a-week telecare service, was launched today, July 29.

"Part of ensuring a sustainable health system is to use information and communications technology to make health-care services more accessible for each and every Nova Scotian," said Health Minister Maureen MacDonald. "HealthLink will provide Nova Scotians with health advice when and where they need it."

When a person dials 811 from any phone registered in Nova Scotia, they will be directed to an experienced registered nurse who will ask the individual to describe the symptoms they or their family member are experiencing. The nurse will then assess the urgency of the caller's symptoms or health condition and advise them on the next steps, such as appropriate self-care, or to seek services from a family physician or another health-care provider, or to visit an emergency department.

The nurse may also provide health information or direct the caller to an automated library of recorded health information available online at NSHealthLink811.ca. All calls are confidential, there is no cost to the caller and a Nova Scotia health card is not required. This type of health line is widely used in other provinces and has had a positive impact.

"The Nova Scotia nurses we have hired have a great deal of clinical experience in many different health-care environments," said Lois Scott, vice-president, clinical solutions, McKesson Canada. "In addition, they just completed a four-week tele-nursing orientation program, which included learning to use the clinical decision support software which helps the nurses to assess the urgency of the patient's need for health care and the level and timing of the intervention required."

The HealthLink 811 service will be available in multiple languages through French-speaking bilingual nurses as well as an on-demand third-party translation service.

There is a combination of full- and part-time telecare nurses, telecare associates, and various clinical, quality and administrative support positions. The call centre, which houses support staff and several nurses, is in Dartmouth. The other nurses work from home.


FOR BROADCAST USE:

     Nova Scotians can now dial 811 and be confident health

advice and information will be waiting on the other end of the

line.

     HealthLink 811, the province's new 24-hour, seven-days-a-

week telecare service, was launched today (July 29th).

     Health Minister Maureen MacDonald says part of ensuring a

sustainable health system is to use information and

communications technology to make health-care services more

accessible for each and every Nova Scotian. HealthLink will

provide Nova Scotians with health advice when and where they

need it.

     An experienced registered nurse will assess the urgency of

the caller's symptoms or health condition and advise them on the

next steps such as appropriate self-care, or to seek services

from a family physician or another health-care provider, or to

visit an emergency department.

-30-

Media Contacts: Krista Higdon
                Department of Health
                902-424-2583
                E-mail: krista.higdon@gov.ns.ca

                Line Chapdelaine
                McKesson Canada
                514-832-8480
                E-mail: line.chapdelaine@mckesson.ca