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SINGAPORE - Patients of Singapore General Hospital (SGH) can now track the remainder of their prescription medicine using mobile apps, or nominate a more digitally savvy family member to help them do so remotely.
The hospital has also tied up with social service agency Montfort Care to help patients living near its two family service centres (FSCs) in Telok Blangah with their medical needs, including having their medicine delivered to the FSCs for greater convenience.
This comes as SGH said in a statement on Wednesday (March 16) that it digitised patients' prescriptions and also enhanced its Medicines Order Service (MOS) on the HealthHub and Health Buddy mobile apps last year.
This means patients can now check in real time the number of days of medication they have left and how much of their prescription they have yet to collect, empowering them to take charge of their health and not be caught in a situation where they run out of medicine, said Ms Lim Ching Hui, a pharmacy practice manager at SGH.
Previously, patients could also view their prescriptions on HealthHub but had to track their medication balance manually.
Ms Lim said it is not uncommon for an elderly patient to lose track of his uncollected medication balance, particularly if he is on multiple medications.
Now, "the moment patients go into the (MOS) system, they can retrieve the record of the particular prescription they want to refill, check the balance and (order) the quantity of medication they require", she said.
Since MOS was enhanced last August, between 7,000 and 8,000 patients now use it each month to receive their medications rather than physically collect them at the hospital, said SGH. The majority are patients with chronic ailments such as hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol.
SGH estimates that the system can benefit more than 170,000 patients who need not set foot in its pharmacy after seeing their doctors, should there be full adoption.
While the option to order prescription medicine for delivery to one's home is not new, SGH said it has been running a pilot with Montfort Care for the past three months so that its patients can get their medicine delivered to the social service agency's centres near their homes.
The pandemic has helped SGH realise that social service agencies can play a key part in meeting patients' needs, such as overcoming language gaps.
"In the past, patients would have difficulty in calling the hospital (to clarify issues about their medication) due to language barriers and long waiting lines," said Ms Lim.
"Community service partners have been in close contact with SGH to give feedback on these issues that patients face, and we have established this collaboration so that the contact of the pharmacist is given to partners to resolve the issue timely."
Ms Wang Yu Hsuan, director of Montfort Care, said that its service staff are not only fluent in many languages and dialects, but also physically near patients' homes and can render support more directly.
SGH said that it is currently working with other social service agencies to expand this service to other areas in the hospital's vicinity.
The enhanced MOS has been a boon for Mr Christopher Foo, a director of an IT company here. Mr Foo said he has been using the system to keep track of his father's medication supply. His father, who is diagnosed with a type of blood cancer and heart disease, currently has about 10 types of medications.
Mr Foo, who has been using the Health Buddy mobile app since 2018, said the new caregiver feature has made linking the dependent's information to the caregiver's account more seamless as this can now be done online rather than in person at SGH.
"I arrange for deliveries of medication to his house once every three months," he said.
This reduces wastage as a smaller quantity of medicine is kept on hand at any one time, in case there is a sudden need to switch medications, he added.
To ensure its less tech-savvy patients are not left behind, SGH said it is partnering the SG Digital Office and has engaged digital ambassadors to be at the hospital to teach patients to use the apps.
Patients will be taught how to access e-services, payments, registrations and to book virtual consultations. The hospital has also teamed up with volunteer organisation RSVP Singapore to run a three-month course over Zoom to teach the elderly how to use these e-services.
"The current number of patients are approximately one-fifth of the total (SGH) patient population who can embark on the use of MOS," said Ms Lim, with users coming onboard mainly through word of mouth.
"In time to come, we hope that with this sharing, more patients will be willing to try the app."