Hamad Medical Corp (HMC) Hamad Medical Corporation's Urgent Consultation Service has started to provide telephonic consultation as part of its efforts to tackle the coronavirus (Covid-19).

Dr Khalid al-Rumaihi, Head of Urology Department at HMC and supervisor of the management of the Urgent Consultation Service, said that accessing healthcare over the phone may represent a big change for many patients, but in reality many medical cases can be dealt with and managed "remotely".

Al-Rumaihi said in a statement on Monday that the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic had caused drastic changes in the way medical services are provided, as most outpatient departments at the HMC currently provide about 90% of their regular services "remotely". While this rate increases in some departments such as urology department to reach 100% of its outpatient visits.

He emphasised that the aim of this is to try as much as possible to spare the patients of the usual cases, especially the patients most at risk of infection, the need to visit clinics and be in the hospital, as infection with the coronavirus might lead to serious complications or even death, especially for people already suffering from other health problems.

He said that by providing health telephonic consultation and video calls, it is possible to spare patients the risk of exposure to the coronavirus while at the same time ensuring that they are provided with high-quality care comparable to the level of care provided in the hospital.

Dr al-Rumaihi said that the Urgent Consultation Service operates from 7am to 10pm, seven days a week and offers patients access to 14 specialities, which include urology, orthopaedics surgery, internal medicine, general surgery, dermatology, cardiology, ENT, obstetrics and gynaecology, dental, paediatrics, neurology, mental health, hematology and oncology.

Patients can call 16000 hotline and chose option 3 where their call will be triaged by a doctor to determine which speciality they should be referred to.

The call will then be put through to one of the senior consultants who can access patients medical files and consult with them about their case, according to HMC.

For his part, Dr Mohamed al-Ateeq al-Dossary, Head of the Orthopedic Department at HMC and a member of the steering committee of the Urgent Consultancy Service project, said that providing urgent telephonic consultation service contributes to reducing some of the burdens on emergency services, which ensures the availability of resources for these services when needed, as it allows avoid the need for hospital visits if this is not necessary.

He added that the urgent consultation service received about 500 calls per day during the first week of its operation, and the number of calls is increasing at a rapid pace.

The Ministry of Public Health has launches a page on its website (www.moph.gov.qa), through which it provides members of the public the latest developments about the coronavirus and how to protect themselves and others from infection with this virus.