Forum: Some seniors still have trouble getting polyclinic appointments with mobile apps

I refer to the letter, "Mobile apps may present challenges to seniors" (Aug 25).

I am a senior and last week I wanted to see a doctor for pain in my feet. To book an appointment at Queenstown Polyclinic, I called the appointment hotline several times for two days.

Each time, an automated message told me the operators were busy, and I should try the OneNUHS app or wait on the line.

On the third day, I finally managed to get an appointment. Those were three very painful days.

While at the polyclinic, I had to wait for 45 minutes at the reception to get a referral for a podiatrist. In that time, I observed the following:

  • A man in his late 70s complained that he could not get a same-day appointment since the day before. He did not own a smartphone and was not familiar with how to use one, and said he could not keep borrowing one from others. The reception staff tried to show him how to use a smartphone, but he could not understand, and they booked an appointment for him.
  • Another man in his 60s walked in with his hands trembling badly. He too said he could not use the app. Seeing his condition, the staff booked an appointment for him that was in two hours' time.
  • A young woman walked in pushing an elderly woman in a wheelchair. She told the staff the app was not working for her and terminated before she could get an appointment. She demonstrated this to the staff, who got the same result.

These incidents demonstrate what some seniors have to go through for basic services. When looking at productivity gains, the time wasted by some in using the app must also be considered.

Not everyone has the means to own a smartphone. Maybe this rush for digitalisation should be relooked to ensure that some are not left behind.

Pradeep K. Mathur

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