Nine polyclinics hit by IT system disruptions

IT systems at nine polyclinics briefly experienced disruptions yesterday morning, causing some patients to be turned away from their scheduled appointments.

All the affected polyclinics - Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang, Clementi, Hougang, Jurong, Toa Payoh, Woodlands and Yishun - are managed by National Healthcare Group Polyclinics (NHGP).

There are a total of 18 poly- clinics in Singapore. The other nine, under the Singapore Health Services (SingHealth), did not have similar disruptions.

In response to media queries, NHGP director of clinical operations Ang Chee Chiang said the disruption lasted about an hour from 8.20am to 9.20am .

"Patients with urgent medical conditions were expedited for medical treatments," he said.

"The polyclinics carried out manual registrations during the down-time period to help expedite the process.

"We are closely monitoring the system performance and investigating the cause."

Facebook user Quek Jia Wei told The Straits Times he was at Ang Mo Kio Polyclinic for his baby's scheduled vaccination at 9am, but was turned away due to the system disruption.

"The polyclinic failed to notify me that the system was down and I wasted my time travelling down," he said, adding that he was disappointed there was no backup system in place.

In another Facebook post, he wrote that he saw many elderly patients being turned away.

When The Straits Times visited Ang Mo Kio Polyclinic at 12.15pm, the clinic's registration kiosks were functioning and patient flow was back to normal.

Dr Christopher Chong, head of the clinic, said this was the first time such a disruption had occurred and that the clinic was "caught off-guard by the suddenness of the incident".

Asked about Mr Quek's complaint that patients with appointments were not notified earlier, Dr Chong also explained that "most of the efforts were concentrated at the front line".

Nurses were stationed at the front of the clinic to direct the more urgent cases - patients who were in pain, had difficulty with movement or expressed discomfort - to the doctors, he added.

The Straits Times understands that those who turned up for regular check-ups had their appointments rescheduled, while walk-in patients with illnesses such as flu and cough were informed of other clinics nearby they could visit.

Responding to Mr Quek's Facebook post, NHG also apologised for the inconvenience caused.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2016, with the headline 'Nine polyclinics hit by IT system disruptions'. Print Edition | Subscribe