Nova Scotia launches HealthLink 811
HALIFAX – Nova
Scotians can now dial 811 and be confident that 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 at the end of July.
“Part of ensuring a sustainable health system is to use information and
communications technology to make healthcare services more accessible
for each and every Nova Scotian,” said Health Minister Maureen MacDonald
(pictured). “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
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
healthcare 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
“The Nova Scotia nurses we have hired have a great deal of clinical
experience in many different healthcare 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
healthcare 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.
Posted Aug. 13/09.