NUHS to roll out new app's telemedicine feature to entire healthcare cluster by 2022

Patients can use the app to book in-person visits, register for a queue number and view the number of patients ahead of them in the queue.
Patients can use the app to book in-person visits, register for a queue number and view the number of patients ahead of them in the queue.PHOTO: NATIONAL UNIVERSITY HEALTH SYSTEM

SINGAPORE - Some patients of Alexandra Hospital who need to see their doctors for follow-up consultation will not need to go to the hospital, but can use the teleconsultation feature on an app instead.

OneNUHS, the first app with a teleconsultation feature rolled out by a public healthcare cluster here, allows patients to book and reschedule appointments, and receive SMS reminders one day and one hour before the appointment.

It also allows them to view the number of patients ahead of them in the queue.

After teleconsultation, they can make payment via the app and have their medicine delivered to their homes.

Caregivers can also help patients manage the app or join in the teleconsultation from their own devices.

Launched in April, the app was jointly developed by the National University Health System (NUHS) and Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS) - the technology agency for the public healthcare sector.

About 100 patients of Alexandra Hospital have been using the app's teleconsultation feature since the end of August. Most of them have stable chronic conditions and need to see their doctors only once every few months.

Doctors will be recommending more patients with suitable conditions to try the teleconsultation and advising them on when they should go for in-person consultation instead.

In a press release on Thursday (Oct 21), NUHS said it hopes to move at least 90 per cent of patients scheduled for teleconsultation at Alexandra Hospital to the OneNUHS app's teleconsultation service by December.

Most teleconsultations are currently done via Zoom and not integrated with NUHS' health management system.

NUHS has plans to roll out the app's teleconsultation feature to National University Polyclinics next February, as well as National University Hospital (NUH) and Ng Teng Fong General Hospital by next year.

Apart from the teleconsultation feature, the app allows patients to request their medical reports and a refill of their medication, as well as view their laboratory results, Covid-19 records and immunisation records.

The app's My Health Map feature also lets them get recommendations on health screenings and vaccinations based on their demographic and health status.

Patients can also use the app to book in-person visits, register for a queue number and view the number of patients ahead of them in the queue.

These features are already available for use by patients at all NUHS institutions.

Ms Clara Sin, chief operating officer of NUH and of NUHS' group service transformation and medical records offices, said: "The introduction of the teleconsultation feature is especially timely considering the Covid-19 situation. We want to ensure continuity of care for all patients and save patients the trouble of travelling physically to the hospital, especially for elderly patients.

"The teleconsultation feature also helps reduce the crowd in the clinics and allow us to maintain better safe distancing measures. Teleconsultations and alternative care arrangements such as remote prescribing and medication delivery to suitable patients can help us achieve these."

Mr Alan Goh, assistant chief executive of platform services and chief of the HealthHub team at IHiS, said: "Telehealth has seen exponential growth. In the last 1½ years, monthly use of teleconsultation has increased about 30 times to about 12,000 sessions, with higher adoption in chronic disease management, psychiatry and pharmacy."

To improve patient convenience and access to care, the OneNUHS app integrates video consultation and scheduling features with NUHS' appointment systems, he added.

And patients can access the app by fingerprint and facial recognition, as well as use the MyInfo feature in Singpass to set up their profiles - features that enhance user experience and cyber security.

"Looking ahead, we are planning to incorporate more of these functions to other apps such as HealthHub, as part of overall efforts to improve population health," said Mr Goh.