SINGAPORE - Skip the polyclinic visit and collect your medicine at a nearby convenience store instead.
That is what some chronic disease patients under the National Healthcare Group's (NHG) chain of nine polyclinics have been able to do in recent months.
A new system, which started in March, allows such patients to collect their medication from one of 34 7-Eleven stores across Singapore.
The drugs are packed in the polyclinic pharmacy before being delivered to lockers in the stores.
Patients get a text message when their medicine has arrived, and access the lockers with a one-time code delivered to their mobile phones.
The idea is to allow patients the convenience of being able to pick up their medication round-the-clock, rather than being constrained by the polyclinic operating hours.
Polyclinics under NHG typically close at 4.30pm on weekdays and 12.30pm on Saturdays. They are not open on Sundays and public holidays.
The service is only available for patients with chronic diseases - such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol - who have an NHG polyclinic doctor's prescription.
Such patients tend to already be familiar with their medication, and will probably not need to talk to a pharmacist, said Dr Lim Ziliang, who is deputy head of Yishun Polyclinic.
"Patients with chronic medication need to take it regularly," he said. "Once they have taken the medication once, they are familiar with it."
Each locker delivery costs $4. This is the same as what NHG polyclinics charge patients to deliver medication directly to a person's doorstep.
However, said Ms Chan Soo Chung, who is executive director of NHG pharmacy, the home delivery timings do not suit everyone.
"There are patients who, due to their lifestyles, do not have the time to sit at home and wait (for deliveries)," she said. "It's to provide more options for such patients."
Medicine is packed in tamper-proof bags to protect patients' privacy. If it is not picked up within 48 hours, it will be delivered back to the polyclinic.
Patients can then arrange for a second delivery or simply go to the polyclinic to pick it up themselves.
Only 10 or 11 patients have opted for the service so far, although Ms Chan and her team hope that numbers will grow as more people become aware of the service.