New cluster system will improve healthcare service

I applaud everyone involved in the massive project of integrating care delivery into a three-cluster system ("Healthcare services will be streamlined into 3 clusters"; Jan 19).

The difficulty of such large-scale reorganisation within a short period is beyond people's expectation. However, it will surely benefit many Singaporeans.

From the viewpoint of patient-centred care, the new cluster system will potentially improve the doctor-patient relationship.

An issue that has emerged in Singapore's healthcare system is that some patients feel dissatisfaction in communicating with doctors ("1 in 5 complaints against docs due to poor communication"; Sept 18, 2016).

An important reason for this is the shorter time for doctor-patient interaction, as doctors are busy not only with patient consultation but also paperwork, administrative tasks and data processing, among other time-consuming activities.

The situation is worsened by the growing demand for doctors as the population expands, ages and faces epidemics of lifestyle-related illnesses.

Streamlining healthcare facilities and having multidisciplinary team-based care will free up time for doctors.

The new cluster system can be a platform to build a large database on patient satisfaction and provider performance.

This will provide doctors and medical students with valuable feedback for learning or improving.

Making such feedback public will also help resolve the issue of information asymmetry in the healthcare market and enhance the confidence patients have in making decisions on their own care.

Hajime Ichiseki (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2017, with the headline 'New cluster system will improve healthcare service'. Print Edition | Subscribe