Manara - Qatar Research Repository
10.1007_s10916-023-01973-w.pdf (2.57 MB)

Reinventing Patient Support and Continuity of Care Using Innovative Physician-staffed Hotline: More than 60,000 Patients Served Across 15 Medical and Surgical Specialties During the First Wave of COVID-19 Lockdown in Qatar

Download (2.57 MB)
journal contribution
submitted on 2024-01-14, 06:21 and posted on 2024-01-16, 04:43 authored by Mohamed Arafa, Walid El Ansari, Fadi Qasem, Abdulla Al Ansari, Mohammed Al Ateeq Al Dosari, Khalid Mukhtar, Mohamed Ali Alhabash, Khalid Awad, Khalid Al Rumaihi

Rising disease prevalence early during the COVID-19 pandemic in the State of Qatar led to stoppage of all non-emergency health care services. To maintain continuity of care and information exchanges for non-emergency patients, a physician-operated telephone hotline was set up that involved triage followed by immediate consultation with a specialized physician. We describe the initiation and evaluate the operations of the Urgent Consultation Centre (UCC) hotline manned by 150 physicians and aimed at urgent non-life-threatening consultations at Hamad Medical Corporation, the public health provider in Qatar. UCC established a hotline to triage inbound patient calls related to 15 medical and surgical specialties. For calls between April-August 2020, we describe call volume, distribution by specialty, outcomes, performance of UCC team, as well as demographics of callers. During the study period, UCC received 60229 calls (average 394 calls/day) from Qatari nationals (38%) and expatriates (62%). Maximum total daily calls peaked at 1670 calls on June 14, 2020. Call volumes were the highest from 9 AM to 2 PM. Response rate varied from 89% to 100%. After an initial telephone triage, calls were most often related to and thus directed to internal medicine (24.61%) and geriatrics (11.97%), while the least percentage of calls were for pain management and oncology/hematology (around 2% for each). By outcome of consultation, repeat prescriptions were provided for 60% of calls, new prescriptions (15%), while referrals were to outpatient department (17%), emergency department/pediatric emergency center (5%), and primary health care centres (3%). We conclude that during a pandemic, physician-staffed telephone hotline is feasible and can be employed in innovative ways to conserve medical resources, maintain continuity of care, and serve patients requiring urgent care.

Other Information

Published in: Journal of Medical Systems
See article on publisher's website:


Open Access funding provided by the Qatar National Library.



  • English


Springer Nature

Publication Year

  • 2023

License statement

This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Institution affiliated with

  • Weill Cornell Medicine - Qatar
  • Hamad Medical Corporation
  • Qatar University
  • Qatar University Health - QU
  • College of Medicine - QU HEALTH

Geographic coverage


Usage metrics

    Weill Cornell Medicine - Qatar



    Ref. manager