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A new polyclinic to provide comprehensive and holistic primary care for the growing population in Tampines North was officially opened on 29 September 2023 by Minister for Health, Mr Ong Ye Kung. “Tampines North Polyclinic will be an important healthcare facility in Tampines New Town. It will provide holistic care for the whole family, whether it is a baby needing vaccination, a school-going kid who has caught the flu, parents coming in for their regular health check-ups, or grandparents requiring help from pharmacists to manage their medications,” said Mr Ong.
Worldwide, the demand for healthcare has risen post-COVID-19 due to the increase in cases of chronic illnesses as a result of poor self-management during the pandemic. The healthcare sector has to continue managing high patient loads even after the pandemic is over. “To address this, we are catching up on the expansion of our primary care capacity, which was delayed due to COVID-19,” said Mr Ong.
Spanning four levels, Tampines North Polyclinic is the 10th clinic within the SingHealth Polyclinics network.
The Tampines planning area has the thirdhighest population (259,900 in the 2020 census) in Singapore after Bedok and Jurong West, and this number is increasing. Located at the junction of Tampines Avenue 6 and Tampines Street 61, the new polyclinic is in the vicinity of a number of new Housing and Development Board build-to-order (BTO) blocks completed in recent years. It will supplement the primary care services provided to date by Tampines Polyclinic, which has been operating since 1990. “We expect to serve around 500 patients per day initially, and up to 700 patients per day in future,” said Dr Sabrina Wee, Clinic Director, Tampines North Polyclinic.
The inauguration of a new clinic offers opportunities to incorporate best practices and new technologies.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people tried telemedicine and got used to the convenience of not having to travel for faceto- face consultations with doctors. Seniors who are less mobile can also save a trip to the polyclinic for simple conditions that can be tended to using telemedicine.
Telemedicine, especially video consultations, are suitable for a range of primary care delivery, typically non-urgent cases, such as attending to patients with common cough and cold, those who need a medical certificate, or follow-up consultations with patients with chronic conditions.
SingHealth has started a small-scale pilot service offering teleconsultations for patients with acute conditions. Some SingHealth Polyclinics offer teleconsultations for wound care, direct observed therapy for tuberculosis patients, and allied health services. For a start, Tampines North Polyclinic will offer video consultations for physiotherapy.
SingHealth will be setting up a centralised telehealth hub at Eunos Polyclinic, bringing clinical and administrative staff together in one location for the delivery of telehealth, adding convenience to patients. There will also be technical support and customer service officers to support patient administrative services, including scheduling of appointments.
Unlike typical primary care services where doctors have to assess patients in person, telehealth services can be centralised and delivered remotely. The hub is equipped with soundproof pods, making it conducive for teleconsultations to be conducted.
“As of April 2023, SHP has conducted over 36,000 video consultations for our patients. As we expand our services and tap on technology to empower our patients in self-monitoring of their blood pressure and blood glucose levels, we will increase our efforts to enable those who are less digital-savvy or unable to afford telemedicine services through community partnerships,” said Dr David Ng, Chief Executive Officer of SHP.
Read more: Glaucoma eye patients can use telemedicine too! The Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) shares how.
Like the rest of SingHealth Polyclinics, Tampines North Polyclinic adopts a multidisciplinary care model called My Care Team (MCT) whose members — doctors, nurses, ancillary and administrative staff — have workstations located in the same area of the clinic to offer seamless communication and stronger coordination to deliver comprehensive and more holistic patient care.
“You can have multidisciplinary teams working together, but often they are in different parts of the building. Our hope is that, with these teams closer in proximity, patients can reach their healthcare team more easily and efficiently,” said Dr Wee.
The team members, known as Health Pals, will advise patients on their medical, social and preventive care needs, and coordinate their health screening and vaccination appointments, in line with Healthier SG aims of preventive healthcare and promotion of healthier living.
MCT-enrolled patients benefit from having a dedicated healthcare team who will consistently work with them on their healthcare goals, with each patient receiving a personalised care plan, as well as practical advice and tips to stay healthy.
Among the many visitors to the polyclinic on its first day of operation was Madam Tang, who moved from Bedok to her BTO flat across the road from the new polyclinic two years ago. She has been watching the progress of the building over the years as she passes by on weekdays while sending her grandson to and from his kindergarten, located near the clinic. Despite moving to Tampines, she has continued going to Bedok Polyclinic for her medical appointments. “I will definitely switch to this clinic as it is so convenient, being so close to my home,” she said.
Tampines North Polyclinic offers primary care services, including
Tampines North Polyclinic is designed to be sustainable
Besides boasting an ethnobotany garden, the clinic incorporates elements of nature and sustainability into its design:
Telemedicine services available at SHP clinics
Acute-On-Demand Telehealth (AODTH) service
For general medical conditions such as:
Patients may book an appointment using the Health Buddy app to consult a doctor virtually on the same day.
Primary Tech-Enhanced Care (PTEC)
Home Blood Pressure Monitoring Programme enables patients with high blood pressure to manage their conditions in their own homes with the help of easy-to-use technology and teleconsultations from the polyclinic.
TeleHEalth Service for Seniors (THESS)
THESS is SHP’s collaboration with community partners and community nurses to set up support video consultation services at Active Aging Centres (AACs) and in patients’ homes to access telehealth services provided by SHP.
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