«I have personally experienced the need to reach for subspecialty support when deployed into disaster areas. It was always nice to be able to consult a colleague,» says doctor Jarone Lee, a member of the Massachusetts General Hospital Global Disaster Response and Humanitarian Action (GDRHA) team.
MGH Global Disaster Response and Humanitarian Action team members on route to assist with Covid-19 response at the Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital, Uganda.
American health professionals are partnering with Health Tech Without Borders.
They will provide clinician-to-clinician support to doctors and other health professionals in and outside of Ukraine, who are helping Ukrainians via online consultations.
Peer consultation is urgently needed, as volunteer health personnel encounter a wide range of injuries and health problems that could benefit from additional clinical expertise.
Jarone Lee is the Medical Director of the Blake 12 Intensive Care Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). He is also an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School.
MGH became the first teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School.
Lee, as a member of the Massachusetts General Hospital Global Disaster Response and Humanitarian Action team (GDRHA), is leading an effort to create a telemedicine response to support the current Ukrainian crisis. This telemedicine effort has over 70 volunteer clinicians. GDRHA has been part of many emergency aid operations in the past. He decided to partner with Health Tech Without Borders because of their extensive resources and network across the EU. Additionally, HTWB was already actively helping patients with teleconsults within Ukraine.
Jarone Lee, M.D.
«Our vision is to support Ukrainian clinicians and deployed clinicians within Ukraine with the full spectrum of medical expertise, via electronic communication, like for example video meetings. We could respond to consults on everything from general medical questions to sub-specialty questions, such as trauma, burn care, and oncology,» Lee says.
Many urgent needs
He says they do not yet know the specific needs of Ukrainian hospitals or clinicians.
«One hospital might need help with burn care, and another might need help with general pediatrics. Regardless of the need, we will be here to support them with direct clinician-to-clinician consultations.»
He explains that the communication can be anything from asynchronous texting to synchronous video discussions. Lee thinks there will be a few major use cases:
Tele-consults to Ukrainian clinicians in hospital settings
Tele-consults to Ukrainian clinicians in office settings
Tele-consults to clinicians deployed with NGOs within Ukraine
Will support all health professions
A range of health professions will benefit from talking to Lee and his colleagues – from doctors, to nurses and field medics.
«For example, depending on the location of the clinician within Ukraine, they might not have access to a burn specialist but would like to ask a clinical question about a patient they are seeing. We would be able to connect the clinician within Ukraine to a burn specialist to discuss the case,» Lee says.
Lindsey Martin, Nurse Practitioner, Director of the MGH Global Disaster Response and Humanitarian Action Program.
«How important is it for healthcare professionals in a disaster area, to be able to get advice from a colleague?»
«I have personally experienced the need to reach for subspecialty support when deployed into disaster areas. It was always nice to consult with a colleague. For example, sometimes all I needed was to have a dermatologist look at a rash. Despite being one of the few doctors active in a disaster zone, I was able to rapidly and effectively treat a patient with an atypical rash that normally would need to see a dermatologist.»
Many valuable lessons came out of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Lee. It helped accelerate the use of telemedicine technology and modalities.
«During the height of the pandemic in the United States, I saw the benefit of offering tele-consults to overwhelmed hospitals, especially critical-access hospitals that typically have access to less resources and consultants.»
How to get in touch – for healthcare professionals
Clinicians and NGOs who are responding to the Ukrainian crisis can send a request via email for clinician-to-clinician support, from the MGH Global Disaster Response team.
Email address: Teleconsultresponseteam@gmail.com
The following information needs to be included in the email:
Subject line: AFFIRMATION OF TELE-CONSULT ASSISTANCE REQUEST
Institution: Institution name, street address, city, country
Designated point-of-contact: Name, title, phone number, email address