Virtual Consultation Clinic Provides Care to Nearly 60 Patients Daily
Doha, 14 June, 2020: The Speech Therapy Department at Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Qatar Rehabilitation Institute (QRI) has introduced virtual consultation clinics to ensure its outpatient department patients continue to have access to the best possible diagnostic and rehabilitative services. The initiative, which uses the VSee telemedicine solution to provide medical consultations via video conferencing, was introduced following the cancelation of all routine outpatient appointments as part of the precautionary measures taken by the health sector to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ms. Eman Al Mulla, Head of the Speech Therapy Department at QRI said: “Our teams at QRI are committed to ensuring that our patients continue to receive safe rehabilitative care. We are using the latest technologies in our virtual consultation clinics to diagnose and treat speech, language, and swallowing difficulties and at the same time ensure that we are adhering to the precautionary measures put in place by the Ministry of Public Health and HMC.”
The speech therapy team has developed a number of evaluations, diagnostic, and therapeutic methods that can be delivered remotely and at the same time ensure effective communication with patients. Ms. Al Mulla says using the latest telemedicine technologies is helping to ensure that patients and their families continue to have timely access to safe care.
”Virtual consultation clinics enable us to care for new patients who need our service while at the same time continuing to care for our existing patients by offering consultations and conducting rehabilitative sessions virtually to maintain the improvements these patients made before our in-person clinics were closed as part of efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. We have also made provisions to ensure that patients who required in-person appointments are able to receive that care safely,” said Ms. Al Mulla.
Ms. Al Mulla said that patients referred to the speech therapy clinic are contacted by one of the therapists who explains how virtual services are provided. She said if the patient and their family or caregiver is comfortable with participating in a video consultation, an appointment is confirmed by the reception team and a link with the appointment details is texted to the patient. For patients who are not comfortable with video consultations, therapists offer to provide tips, guidance, and a treatment plan, according to the patient’s individual needs, via a telephone call.
Currently, the virtual clinic is providing services to address language and communications delays, speech disorders, stuttering, voice disorders, and swallowing disorders. The clinic’s services are provided to patients of all ages and the speech therapy team is currently treating between 50 and 60 patients each day. This number is expected to increase as the clinic introduces more programs in the coming weeks.
“We have activated the speech and language virtual clinics at QRI to enable us to provide effective services to our patients. The QRI clinics are available in two shifts, between 8am to 1pm and from 1pm to 6pm. Providing multiple time slots throughout the day allows us to provide our patients and their families with greater flexibility,” said Ms. Al Mulla.
Ms. Al Mulla said the speech therapy team has also launched a number of counseling and awareness programs aimed at helping to support parents of pre-school children and children with communication disorders. She said the programs serve children between the ages of 2 and 6 and have been specially designed for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and social communication disorders. The program provides parents with tips and advice on using different stimulation strategies to help increase their child’s ability to interact with others and to develop their child's communication and language skills. The team has also developed a number of tools that aim to provide patients and caregivers with evidence-based resources that can help in their child’s development, including pictures, stories, and educational websites.
Ms. Al Mulla said this initiative has been well received by parents and caregivers, with many commenting that the resources have been a great assistance to them during the COVID-19 pandemic. She said one parent expressed his appreciation for the newly developed resources, saying his child, who has Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), has greatly benefited from the resources which allow him to ensure his child is maintaining good eating and swallowing functions.
“Since our appointments were canceled, we were doing our best to follow all the tips and advice provided by the speech and swallowing therapist at HMC's Speech Therapy Department. We were so happy to be provided with the opportunity to receive care through video consultations. It has been a great experience for us to have access to our doctor and to get all the necessary instructions,” said the child’s father.