Fill Me In
More than most illnesses, some would say that Singaporeans are terrified of long wait times and queues — even if it means a solution to their health issues. While Singapore’s healthcare has been lauded globally over the years, our polyclinics and hospitals are still infamous among locals for the long waiting time.
Thankfully, SingHealth Polyclinics’ (SHP) latest collaborative effort with Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS) — a multi-award-winning healthcare IT leader that digitises and analyses Singapore’s health ecosystem — and GovTech may present a solution to this dreaded wait.
Pilot testing began before COVID-19
Since November 2019, new patients at Punggol Polyclinic have been able to register themselves by using the SingPass Mobile app. A pilot initiative previously exclusive to that polyclinic, the new registration process was met with great success reducing patient registration time from an average 6 minutes to 3 minutes. By streamlining the registration process, the polyclinic was able to also alleviate crowding — an especially crucial benefit during this pandemic period.
“We understand the need to minimise physical touchpoints for patients visiting healthcare facilities during the COVID-19 period,” said Mr Kwok Quek Sin, Senior Director, National Digital Identity, GovTech.
Mr Kwok also added “SingHealth Polyclinics’ integration of Verify with SingPass offers a secure and contactless identification process for patients to register at the clinics.
“By expanding this digital service to all SingHealth polyclinics, we hope to do our part to provide a seamless registration experience for patients and healthcare staff and keep them safe from Covid-19.”
And it has already been rolled out to more places
Following the successful pilot effort at Punggol Polyclinic, SHP has since rolled out this feature to their remaining seven polyclinics across the island as of July this year. To date, over 1,400 patients have had the opportunity to experience the streamlined convenience of this initiative.
While SingHealth Polyclinics plans to continue building on this feature, it is also recognised that not all patients, especially those amongst the senior citizen demographic, would be familiar with the process.
“We are heartened to receive many positive patient feedback from this pilot project, and we believe that the new registration process will bring more convenience to our new patients. Meanwhile, the usual registration methods will still be available for patients who may not have or need more help with the use of smart phones,” said Ms Loke Chui Yee, Chief Operating Officer, SHP.
Functionality that extends beyond just registration
While the SingPass Mobile app functionality has primarily been used to assist in the reduction of registration periods, as well as crowds within the clinics’ premises, it can also be used by existing patients to update their personal information and contact details with ease. Not only does leveraging this feature ensure a smoother administrative process in keeping patients’ contact details updated, it also allows for the clinics to reach patients with ease in the event of critical situations.
Interestingly, the current pandemic and the ensuing tracking may have prepared Singaporeans for the integrations of such digital initiatives.
“I think it’s very convenient to use. I just need to scan the QR code with my SingPass Mobile app to update my profile. In addition, I am also very used to scanning QR codes now because it is the norm to do so when we check-in to places with SafeEntry,” said 65-year-old Mdm Ho Bee Lan, an existing patient at Punggol Polyclinic.
More digital solutions to come?
Likening the use of the SingPass Mobile app for registration to the currently prominent SafeEntry requirement further highlights how seamlessly digital alternatives could be integrated into Singaporeans’ daily lives. The rapid acceptance and roll-out of this feature at all of SingHealth Polyclinics’ clinics might also be an indication of more digital solutions to come.
“In addition to studying how this initiative can be scaled to the rest of the public healthcare system, IHiS identified more use cases using SingPass Mobile to improve the citizens’ experience in the public healthcare sector,” said Guai Eng Chun, Director, Product Management & Delivery, IHiS. Mr Guai further added that “[IHIS is] exploring the adoption of biometric authentication technology for verification purposes, as well as digital signature to facilitate paperless transactions such as consent forms. These are possible initiatives that can potentially enhance security and convenience for those visiting the public healthcare institutions.”
With SingHeatlh Polyclinics’ membership of Singapore Health Services (SingHealth) — an Academic Medical Centre boasting a network of acute hospitals, national specialty centres, community hospitals and polyclinics — it remains to be seen if this digital future will be soon adopted by all aspects of the Singaporean medical service field.