With a smartphone in nearly every person's pocket now, more health- care institutes are turning to apps to improve the delivery of health products and services.
Some of the apps launched in the past year include NUH's myMeds, KK Women's and Children's Hospital's Zero Bleeds, and the eCareApp, developed by the Centre for Seniors and social enterprise Ace Seniors, in partnership with consulting and technology services firm Sierra Solutions.
This is in line with the rising trend of healthcare tech start-ups, which also develop apps geared towards consumers. The Straits Times reported yesterday that nearly 900 investors helped seal health-tech deals in 2015 in Asia, which is 25 per cent more than the year before.
ORDERING MEDICINE ONLINE
With the launch of the National University Hospital's (NUH) myMeds app in January, patients who have chronic diseases can reorder medication, set alerts to take their medicine and read simple descriptions of what they are taking - all in one place.
One of the aims of the app is to improve the way patients follow doctors' orders, said Ms Daphne Tan, a senior pharmacist from NUH who helped to develop the app.
Amount of orders received by NUH pharmacies from January to July through the myMeds app, out of the 1,039 orders sent via phone, fax, website and the app.
Based on her observations, about one-third of patients who reorder medication from NUH pharmacies do not take their medication regularly. This can lead to serious consequences in future, she added.
"Patients who often forget to take their diabetes medication may not feel unwell. But, in the long term, they can suffer from heart attacks or stroke," she said.
Not surprisingly, two of the most popular app functions are for setting alerts to take medicine and reordering medicine.
Out of the 1,039 orders NUH pharmacies received from January to July this year via telephone, fax, website and the app, nearly 40 per cent were made through the app.
Patients can choose to collect their medication from any of the four NUH pharmacies or have it delivered for about $8.
Polytechnic lecturer Irwin Chung appreciates the convenience. Previously, he had to take time off work to pick up the medicine for his wife, who had a kidney transplant in February. "Before the app was launched, I had to wait in the queue at the pharmacy for nearly an hour to collect the medication," said Mr Chung, 55. "Now, I don't have to wait. In fact, the pharmacy will call me a day before the collection."
By the end of the year, video explanations on how to use medical devices such as inhalers and nasal sprays will be added to the app.
It is available free for download on Google Play and the Apple Store. Since its launch, it has been downloaded more than 1,700 times.
It is available only in English, but there are plans to introduce other languages such as Chinese, said Ms Tan.