Doha, 25 Jan. 2021
Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) celebrated recently the success of the Urgent Consultation Service at Itqan Clinical Simulation and Innovation Center. Present on the occasion were 30 representatives and heads of departments that contributed to the implementation of the service.
The service was launched in March 2020 following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the suspension of face-to-face outpatient appointments, the Urgent Consultation Service offers medical consultations to patients with urgent but non-life-threatening conditions via telemedicine, with options available for video or audio consultations.
Dr. Abdulla Al Ansari, HMC’s Chief Medical Officer, presented certificates of appreciation to the honorees and thanked all staff members who contributed to the implementation of the Urgent Consultation Service. He also confirmed that the service will remain in place in the future.
The Urgent Consultation Service was launched in a record time of 7 days with support of various departments at HMC, including the departments of Health Information and Communication Technology, Engineering, Human Resources, Communications, Health Facilities Development, as well as the support of the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Transport and Communications.
Dr. Khalid Al Rumaihi, Head of Urology at HMC, is managing the Urgent Consultation Service and says that the Service has achieved its goals and was very well received by the public as it received 197,000 calls between its launch and 31 December 2020, with a 95% response rate.
“The Urgent Consultation Service is staffed by around 150 physicians and is currently available for 15 different specialties, namely: urology, orthopedics, ENT, general surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, general medicine, cardiology, dermatology, pediatrics, dentistry, mental health, neurology, pain management, geriatrics, and oncology,” added Dr. Al Rumaihi.
Commenting on the process for delivering the urgent consultation service, Dr. Al Rumaihi explained that a number of physicians receive patient calls and conduct an initial assessment for the patients and answer their questions and when a specialized consultation is required, the call is put through to the specialist physician. In the event that a call is not answered, the doctors will call the patient back and then transfer the call to the specialist doctor if needed. All calls are recorded for quality control purposes and for future reference when required.
A recent customer satisfaction survey, which was conducted on 1,000 service users, showed that 88 percent of the respondents expressed their satisfaction with the service, while 90 percent of those surveyed recommended that the service remain in place in the future even after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The telephone-based Urgent Consultation Service allows patients to speak to healthcare professionals to obtain appropriate diagnosis for their conditions so that necessary actions can be taken without the need to visit the hospital. The service can be accessed by calling the health sector’s hotline number (16000) and then selecting the HMC Urgent Consultation Service option (option 3).
The Urgent Consultation Service offers patients a range of healthcare services, including medical consultations, new prescriptions, prescription refills, referrals to OPD clinics, referrals to primary health care centers, referrals to the emergency department, issuing health numbers for visitors, and reviewing lab test results and clinical imaging reports when no medical appointments are available soon in the clinic.
The Urgent Consultation Service also offers help and psychological support to those who suffer from stress and anxiety related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The service has also helped relieve the pressure on hospitals, which in turn resulted in reducing the risk of COVID-19 exposure for patients and healthcare professionals. A survey conducted to seek patients’ opinion about the service showed that when asked about their decision if the Urgent Consultation Service was not available, 58 percent of the respondent said they would go to the emergency department, while 18 percent said they would go to private clinics, 16 percent said they would go to the OPD without an appointment, and 11 percent said they would stay home and would not seek medical attention.
The Urgent Consultation Service will remain in place with periodic reviews conducted regularly to remove or add more services and specialties as needed.
The celebration event was concluded with a speech from Dr. Khalid Al Rumaihi in which he thanked all attendees and medical staff who contributed to the success of the service. The speech was followed by a recognition ceremony with all attendees being awarded certificates of appreciation.