Your medicine is ready for collection - at a 7-Eleven store

Some patients are now able to collect their medication from a convenience store locker near them, just by keying in a code delivered to their mobile phones. Each delivery costs $4 and is held at the locker for 48 hours before being returned to the po
Some patients are now able to collect their medication from a convenience store locker near them, just by keying in a code delivered to their mobile phones. Each delivery costs $4 and is held at the locker for 48 hours before being returned to the polyclinic.PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Once the medicine has been delivered, patients receive a text message and access the lockers with a one-time code delivered to their mobile phones.
Once the medicine has been delivered, patients receive a text message and access the lockers with a one-time code delivered to their mobile phones.
Pharmacy technician Joyceanne Bagtas packing medicine at Yishun Polyclinic for delivery to the self-collection points.
Pharmacy technician Joyceanne Bagtas packing medicine at Yishun Polyclinic for delivery to the self-collection points.PHOTOS: ALICIA CHAN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

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.

The system, which started in March, allows such patients to pick up medication from 34 7-Eleven stores across Singapore.

The drugs are packed in the polyclinic pharmacy before being delivered to lockers in the stores.

Patients receive 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 offer patients the convenience of being able to collect their medication round the clock, rather than being constrained by the polyclinics' operating hours.

The idea is to offer patients the convenience of being able to collect their medication round the clock, rather than being constrained by the polyclinics' 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 available only for patients with chronic diseases such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol who have an NHG doctor's prescription.

Such patients tend to already be familiar with their medication, and would probably not need to talk to a pharmacist, said Dr Lim Ziliang, the deputy head of Yishun Polyclinic.

"Patients with chronic medication need to take it regularly," he said. "Once they have taken the medication, they are familiar with it."

Each locker delivery costs $4 - the same as what NHG polyclinics charge patients for delivering medication directly to their doorsteps.

However, said Ms Chan Soo Chung, 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. "(The new service is meant) to provide more options for such patients."

Medicine is packed in tamper- proof bags to protect the patients' privacy. If it is not picked up within 48 hours, it is sent back to the polyclinic.

Patients can then arrange for a second delivery, or simply go to the polyclinic to pick it up.

Only about 10 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.

One of those using the service is Mr Maslan Ahamad, 48, who used to travel to Yishun Polyclinic from his home in Sembawang to collect his medicine for diabetes.

Now, the security officer simply picks up his prescription from a 7-Eleven store near his home.

"It is very good - about a five- to 10-minute walk," he said. "It saves my time."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2017, with the headline 'Your medicine is ready for collection - at a 7-Eleven store'. Print Edition | Subscribe