Doha, 18 May, 2020: In late April Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Child Development Center introduced virtual clinics for its medical and therapy programs. The initiative, which uses VSee telemedicine solution to provide medical consultations via video conferencing, is part of nationwide efforts to assure continuity of care for pediatric patients with mental and physical disabilities and developmental and learning delays while also helping reduce the spread of COVID-19 by limiting the number of patients who are being treated in clinical spaces.
Dr. Lubna Hassan Dekir, Senior Consultant and Acting Director of the Child Development Center, which is located at Rumailah Hospital, says remote consultations are helping to keep both healthcare workers and patients safe while ensuring patients, and their families, receive the specialist care they need.
“The virtual consultation initiative is allowing direct communication between doctors and their patients and we have found that most patients and most treatment programs can be effectively managed remotely. Technology is allowing our specialists to safely check-in on patients, talk to their parents, recommend exercises, and answer questions. In cases where patient families are not comfortable with video calls, our doctors can provide advice over the telephone,” said Dr. Dekir.
Dr. Dekir says the addition of video conferencing to the telemedicine service is allowing specialists to better care for patients by providing doctors with a platform to directly observe a child’s behavior and to better support parents in providing individualized clinical recommendations.
Ms. Fatima Mustafa, Assistant Director of the Child Development Center for Rehabilitation Services, says telemedicine is allowing healthcare teams at the Child Development Center to continue caring for young patients with developmental delays and emotional or behavioral conditions.
“We have been able to successfully adapt many of our programs to virtual consultations, including our early intervention program, our autism programs, student support program, and programs that provide psychological support services. Our multidisciplinary teams, which consist of occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, special education therapists, psychologists, and program coordinators, are all working together to ensure our patients continue to have access to the care they need, and right now that means connecting with patients remotely, while they are in their own home,” said Ms. Mustafa.
She said having access to a child’s home life can be beneficial when caring for patients with special needs as it allows physicians to observe parent-child interactions that are more representative of a child’s normal behavior.
“Our specialists are able to observe the child while he or she is playing and communicating with their family, in their everyday environment. This allows our specialists to see the child in what is a more normal setting for them, as compared to when they are here in our Center, which is ultimately a clinical environment. Our specialists can suggest therapeutic intervention strategies, exercises, and appropriate activities that may more realistically address challenges the child is having,” said Ms. Mustafa.