These days, patients can book appointments with doctors or have video medical consultations with doctors using apps.
Patients can also get their blood test results on their mobile phones, after this feature was added in July to the MaNaDr app, owned by healthcare firm Mobile Health, which was set up by a group of local doctors.
MaNaDr, which roughly means where (is the) doctor in Malay, allows doctors to send digitised versions of blood test results to patients within a day instead of their having to wait at least three days to collect a physical copy at the clinic.
Launched in October last year, MaNaDr also has features like appointment booking and teleconsultation. It is one of many apps rolled out here in the last few years that offer more convenient access to doctors and pharmacists.
For example, the MyDoc app offers teleconsultations, electronic Medical Certificates and digitised health screening reports.
Doctor Anywhere offers video consults with healthcare providers for medical, aesthetics or newborn care and advice while Speedoc gives users 24/7 access to a doctor at the location of their choice.
Having more ways to connect with patients has been a boon for doctors, said Dr Rachel Teoh of Punggol Ripples Family Clinic. Her clinic started using the MaNaDr app in February this year, and the appointment booking and teleconsult features have proven the most popular with its patients.
The booking service has halved the average waiting time for users to an hour.
However, some patients booked multiple consults and deprived others of slots, or made last-minute cancellations. To deal with this, Dr Teoh started charging a $5 booking fee in May. This led to a fall in bookings through the app from half of her daily average of 45 patients to one-fifth of them.
"I guess it takes a while for the community to warm up to this idea to pay a booking fee to see the doctor," said Dr Teoh. "It's quite commonly done, even when you take Grab or Uber."
Ms Ferlene Tan, 43, is one patient who does not mind the booking fee. "I believe this is the way to go for the future because there have been improvements in the waiting time," said the senior IT consultant.
As for teleconsultations, Dr Teoh said that most patients who take up this option are follow-up cases who had seen her in person for their first consultation.
The charges for a teleconsult range from $5 to $20, depending on the duration of the consultation and the complexity of the case, she added. A typical face-to-face consultation costs between $25 and $40.
Another GP, Dr Alvina Nam of Clinic@Costa in Bayshore Road, does not charge patients for booking consultations through the MaNaDr app but plans to when they are more comfortable with the idea.
Since she started using the app last year, around 70 per cent of the 40 to 60 patients who visit her in a day book their appointments.
Those who book consults wait less than half an hour, compared with more than one hour for those without a booking, said Dr Nam.
"Since adopting the MaNaDr system, we clear out the waiting area - which is small - and patients walk in closer to their appointment times," she added.