Head of Hamad Medical Corporation's (HMC) Urology Department and supervisor of the management of the urgent counseling service Dr. Khalid Al Rumaihi emphasised that the providing urgent medical and counselling services remotely has succeeded in providing high-quality health care to all patients under the current conditions related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
Speaking to Qatar News Agency (QNA), Dr. Al Rumaihi said that 95% of HMC medical clinics provide medical services remotely, adding that the remote urgent consulting services witnessed a large turnout since its launch three weeks ago, as it received more than 4,000 calls in the second week, with the expectation that the number will rise due to community awareness about this pioneering service.
HMC has launched many medical services and urgent consultations via a remote system as part of the preventive measures taken to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The services provided remotely are divided into two parts. The first relates to medical services in outpatient clinics, where consultant doctors communicate with patients who have prior appointments at HMC hospitals and provide services to them by phone. The second is for urgent consultations, where patients call 16000 and choose number three for urgent medical advice.
Dr. Al Rumaihi said that HMC launched the remote medical consultations due to the current conditions of the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as the goal is to reduce the hospital attendance of patients as much as possible to preserve their safety and health from the possibility of infection transmission to them.
He explained that medical consultations and services remotely take place during the conversation between the doctor and the patient by phone, and in some cases, visual communication technology can be used to provide the medical service.
He said that the aim of launching the service is to avoid the problem that the patient does not have an appointment in the HMC outpatient clinics, as well as reduce the pressure on the emergency department where urgent medical services can be provided from a distance.
Dr. Al Rumaihi explained that urgent consulting services are provided remotely through a center affiliated with the HMC, which consists of two teams, the first includes a number of general medicine doctors who receive phone calls from the patients and learn about the patient's condition, then they transfer it to the second team, which consists of specialized doctors.
He pointed out that the urgent consulting service received about 2,400 calls in the first week of its launch, and 4,000 calls in the second week, indicating that 40 to 48 percent of the calls were to Qatari citizens.
Dr. Al Rumaihi pointed out that if the doctor thinks that the patient needs a direct medical examination, an urgent appointment is arranged for him and the required checks are provided or transferred to the emergency department. He explained that entering the hospital or outpatient clinic is by registering the patient's name at the reception, with conditions for adhering to the health instructions, including wearing a face mask and other protective matters against the risk of infection.
In his interview with QNA, Dr. Al Rumaihi stated that the remote urgent consultation service was initially launched in the fields of urology, orthopedics, general surgery, internal medicine, ENT, dermatology, neurology, dentistry, hematology and oncology, pediatrics, gynecology, cardiology, mental health, and elderly diseases, and these specializations will be increased regularly.
He stressed that providing medical services and urgent consultations remotely is a rich experience and the idea was applied relatively before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but the current crisis of the virus contributed to the acceleration of the launch of such services.
He expected that such an experiment would continue after the end of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, as each medical clinic could provide about 30 to 40 percent of its services via a remote system, but the patient must visit the clinic for the first time to do the clinical examination to detect his condition and define consultations necessary for him/her either remotely or by visiting the clinic, as needed.
Dr. Al Rumaihi stressed that the crisis of coronavirus (COVID-19) that the world is currently going through will help health systems to learn many important lessons and experiences that are in favor of developing the health sector in general.
He said many developed countries, despite the fact that they have a very advanced health system, failed to deal with the corona pandemic, due to the fact that its health system focuses on the patient while what is required is that the health system focuses on the medical care of society completely, in a way that enables them to deal with such epidemics.
Dr. Al Rumaihi noted that Qatar has a distinguished health system and advanced medical facilities and focuses on medical care provided to the community. It is one of the few countries that owns a specialized hospital for communicable diseases, which had a pivotal role in dealing with the corona pandemic.
Dr. Al Rumaihi touched on the success of the health sector in Qatar and all other sectors in dealing with the crisis of coronavirus (COVID-19), as efforts focused on preventing the spread of the epidemic in a short period, stressing that the capacity of the current medical facilities far exceeds the number of cases, while expecting that the coming period will witness a decrease in the number of cases and decline in the spread of the virus so that life will gradually return to normal.
Regarding the medical services that currently require patients to visit hospitals, he explained that they include emergency situations in the emergency departments in addition to services related to cancerous tumors such as chemotherapy and some tests related to patients with cancer and tumors, which require the patient's presence, while there are some services in this field that are provided remotely.
Cover image credit: Qatar Tribune
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