The Ministry of Health (MOH) aims to license telemedicine services in the middle of next year as part of the phasing in of the upcoming Healthcare Services Act.
MOH, which started a regulatory sandbox for telemedicine in 2018 to better understand the risks, said in February this year that it has achieved the objectives.
In the interim, it introduced in February a voluntary listing of direct telemedicine providers that have agreed to comply with certain measures. These include ensuring their doctors or dentists complete MOH telemedicine e-training.
The list now has more than 600 telemedicine providers, including public hospitals, clinics and telemedicine firms.
From April 1, only listed providers have been able to offer Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) subsidies and MediSave for video consultations for follow-ups of chronic conditions.
In April last year - just before Singapore went into lockdown mode - patients were allowed to tap Chas subsidies and MediSave for video consultations for regular follow-ups covering seven chronic conditions, including diabetes, hypertension and anxiety.
This was expanded last October to cover 20 chronic conditions, including osteoporosis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and ischaemic heart disease.
The Healthcare Services Bill was approved by Parliament in early January last year, before the Covid-19 outbreak spiralled out of control around the world. At that time, the new law was planned to be implemented in three phases, from early 2021 to the end of 2022.
The new timeline is from September this year to March 2023.
It replaces the Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act, which was enacted in 1980 and last amended in 1999.