Emergency medicine physician begins calling patients for follow-ups

As an emergency medicine physician, Hazar Khidir, MD, was used to only seeing patients once. However, with the uncertainties of COVID-19, Dr. Khidir has begun calling her former patients to check how they are doing, she wrote in an op-ed for WBUR.

Dr. Khidir and other emergency medicine physicians struggle with knowing if their patients will be safe returning home. These providers also have to think about if a patient has anyone at their home or if they have access to food. Questions that emergency medicine physicians didn't always have to consider are now constantly being asked because of COVID-19.

"Even though I am an emergency doctor, a see-you-one-time type of doctor, I can't accept not knowing the answers to these questions. Not when my patients' lives, their family members' lives and my city's public health are all at stake," she wrote. "So my colleagues and I proposed to do the unthinkable in our field of emergency medicine: Call our patients and see how they are doing."

Dr. Khidir is telephone and videoconferencing with patients who were treated in the emergency room for COVID-19. Through this system, she is able to monitor patients whose symptoms get worse, reinforce self-isolation, check in on family members who may have been exposed and instruct patients to return to the hospital.

"We move beyond the step of simply acknowledging that challenges exist to self-isolation for our patients, particularly those who are socioeconomically disenfranchised, and do everything in our power to screen patients for unmet basic needs –– food, housing, transportation –– and facilitate referral to resources," Dr. Khidir said.

Editor's note: This article was updated Dec. 13 at 12:11 p.m. CST.

More articles on telehealth: 
Illinois launches statewide telehealth program: 6 notes  
How U of Iowa Health Care is taking lessons from H1N1 to deploy telehealth
46 telehealth services UnitedHealthcare covers during COVID-19 pandemic + their codes

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