Resuming elective hospital services during the COVID-19 pandemic
The Royal Hospital is a large tertiary care hospital under the ministry of health in Oman, catering to over 300,000 outpatient visits annually. Similar to other healthcare institutions, the Royal Hospital cancelled non-elective medical services and surgeries to free up capacity for COVID-19. By mid-April 2020, outpatient clinic referrals had dropped by over 50%, raising concerns about patients’ unmet healthcare needs.
Hence, it established a core team for the resumption of hospital services, made up of volunteer healthcare professionals. The team’s purpose was to establish telemedicine clinics and to encourage its use to meet the needs of patients with chronic diseases, to develop a manual for guiding elective service resumption, and to create a solution for monitoring staff respiratory symptoms to control COVID-19 outbreaks within the organization.
All these objectives were met by the team. Over 5000 patients with chronic diseases availed of teleconsultations, consulting experts across different specialities. The telemedicine solution was integrated with the hospital information system, which allowed clinicians to document progress and order required laboratory investigations to be performed in a Ministry of Health institute near each patient’s home, and have their needed medications delivered straight to their homes. The team was also able to meet its second objective, which was to produce a document that aided different clinical teams to resume their services. Lastly, the third objective was met through the Kashif app, which helped staff monitor their respiratory symptoms and minimize outbreaks within the organization.