In the past, the occasional sneeze or cough wasn’t much of a big deal, and heading to the clinics wasn’t a need considering how easily we brushed it off as just one of our everyday flu symptoms. But in present-day, any symptoms of a cold or fever would send anyone (and everyone around you) in a frenzy — no thanks to the outbreak of the Wuhan Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that has taken the world by storm.
But with the perennial fear of contracting the virus — despite our efforts of wearing our masks ’round the clock — is there another way of seeking medical attention if you’re not feeling well while minimising exposure to sick patients in the clinic?
As a matter of fact, you do! Introducing, telemedicine.
WHAT IT IS AND WHY
Provided in a regulatory sandbox with the Ministry of Health of Singapore, doctors can now see their patients with the help of their smartphones. Bringing on a new frontier in the healthcare industry, this brings about a new revolution in the way we consult doctors as compared to our usual clinic visits. With a full gamut of providers to work with, these telemedicine apps now offer different options for patients to consult their doctors — varying from house calls to video consultations for you to choose from to stay in the pink of health!
Though it may not be new to some, ‘Mobile Medicine’, otherwise known as house call services, are also offered to better facilitate patients who are unable to visit the clinics, as well as those who would like to be consulted at the comfort of their home. That’s where General Practitioners (GPs) come in. Here, General Practitioners (GPs) make their house visits to diagnose and prescribe medicine to their patients which do come in handy, especially for our ageing population.
For most of these apps, doctors will then prescribe the medication after your consultation and diagnosis, along with your MC that will be delivered to your home.
According to the Ministry of Health in Singapore, telemedicine apps will soon be a key feature of Singapore’s healthcare landscape which will further assist in the medical support and medication of patients through these self-help options — especially with the novel coronavirus that we’re all facing in the present.
Thus, with the rise of such services, MOH has also zoomed in their focus on licensing doctor-led teleconsultation and mobile medicine services that provide direct clinical care.
Launched in 2017, video consultations have improved communication for the patients who are unable to remotely consult them physically in the clinic. Soon after, telemedicine apps were then introduced — which brought about 11 new providers licensed by MOH.
A few of the listed telemedicine providers include: Doctor World, Doctor Anywhere, HiDoc, MaNaDr and WhiteCoat. Ahead, we’ve categorised them into the various services that they offer — house call or video consultation — which you can consider for your next “visit to the clinic”:
1. DOCTOR ANYWHERE
BASIC CONSULTATION FEE: $15 onwards
OPERATING HOURS: 24 hours daily
Looking to consult a doctor within minutes without going through the hassle of going to the clinic? Check out Doctor Anywhere. An app built to improve healthcare delivery through innovation and technology, the app allows patients to consult GPs, medical aesthetics and even lactation consultants whenever and wherever they are.
What segregates DoctorAnywhere from the other apps is that they specialise in delivering other niche services from providers such as medical aesthetics and even lactation consultants.
To top it all off, they also have a marketplace where patients can find other products that cater to their different medical needs — which varies from dental care to traditional remedies and even vitamins & supplements.
With a minimal fee that starts from $15 to $20, depending on the consultation, doctors are also able to prescribe your medicine and deliver it along with your MC to your doorstep!
Visit their website at doctoranywhere.com for more info.
BASIC CONSULTATION FEE: $25 TO $50 DEPENDING ON HOUR OF CONSULTATION (OFFICE HOURS: 8AM TO 7.59PM — MON TO SAT)(AFTER-HOURS: 8PM TO 12AM — MON TO SAT; 8AM TO 12AM — SUN & PUBLIC HOLIDAYS)
OPERATING HOURS: CONSULTATION (8AM TO 8PM FROM MON TO SAT)
To add to the list of telemedicine providers that provide video consultation, enter the WhiteCoat app. Offering video consultations for you and even your child, the staff doctors here also assist in common primary healthcare symptoms and related signs such as chronic disease management, travel medication advice, discussions on laboratory results and advice regarding sexual health or contraception. Also, you will also have the liberty to consult the next available doctor or even the doctor of your own choice!
In a nutshell, they deliver services that cater to your complex needs which comes in handy when you need a prescription for any chronic disease you’re facing. Medication prescribed to you can be delivered directly to your house with an additional fee, as well as an MC or medical referral letter will be provided wherever need be.
Visit their website at whitecoat.com.sg for more info.
BASIC CONSULTATION FEE: $120 ONWARDS
OPERATING HOURS: 9am to 6pm (mon to fri)
Apart from the flurry of apps that offer video consultation services by GPs, apps like HiDoc, on the other hand, offer services from specialists. Similar to other consultations with specialists, services offered here are pricier as compared to the ones on the other apps with the GPs.
On the app, you will also be able to book an appointment at the clinic of your choice if you require extra medical attention that you may not receive from the video consultation itself.
Other interesting options offered on the app also include a marketplace where you can shop for supplements, and receive curated lifestyle & wellness content for you to stay updated on any news and tips on maintaining a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle.
Visit their website at hidoc.sg for more info.
HOUSE CALLS AND VIDEO CONSULTATIONS
1. DOCTOR WORLD
BASIC CONSULTATION FEE: $18 ONWARDS
OPERATING HOURS: 24 hours daily
With a minimal starting fee of $18 for each consultation, Doctor World offers one of the most affordable rates around.
Through this app. patients can choose to consult their doctors over the phone through a video call (you can search for your doctors on the app too), or book an appointment at any Raffles Medical clinics across the island if your condition cannot be diagnosed over video.
Doctor World also offers other options such as a health store where you can purchase masks & sanitizers, genetic tests, traditional Chinese medicine services ranging from acupuncture to paediatric massage and vaccinations by trusted medical providers.
In addition, Doctor World also offers home care services which include ambulance calls, home nursing care, and house calls that operate ’round the clock, should you need some medical attention.
Visit their website at doctorworld.co for more info.
BASIC CONSULTATION FEE: $10 FOR FIRST 5 MESSAGES, $0.70/MESSAGE SUBSEQUENTLY. $10 FOR 3 MINUTES VIDEO CALL, $0.50/MIN OR $1/MIN SUBSEQUENTLY.
OPERATING HOURS: 24 hours daily
As for MaNaDr, the app connects doctors and patients together, where the latter can opt for chat consultations, on top of their video consultations, as well as their preferred doctors they would like to talk to. If the doctor is unable to diagnose your condition, you can also select the house call option or even book an appointment at the nearest clinic.
Basic consultation fees start from as low as $10 for the first 5 messages and $0.70 per message subsequently which can be a bit more cheaper or a little more pricier than your standard consultation fee — depending on your conversation with the doctor. The same applies for video calls, where each call starts from $10 for the first 3 minutes and $0.50 or $1 per minute subsequently.
Through the MaNaDr app, you will also find different types of providers ranging from skin, hair and aesthetic providers as well as those that address weight management, stress, menstrual, and even gastric pain or bowel problems.
Visit their website at manadr.com for more info.
1. HOW IT WORKS
For most of the telemedicine services offered here in Singapore, most of them are accessible through downloading the respective apps from your mobile store on Android and iOS. Through these apps, you can consult the doctors through video calls, house calls, chats, and access other features such as their online store and find out more about lifestyle & wellness through their curated content.
2. WHAT DO YOU NEED TO PREPARE YOURSELF FOR A VIDEO CONSULTATION?
As part of the teleconsultation, patients are required to present their NRIC wherever necessary for the doctor’s verification to identify that you’re using your real identity. Other available medical equipment that you have such as:
- a thermometer — measure temperature;
- a glucometer — measure blood glucose levels;
- a sphygmomanometer — check blood pressure and heart rate and ;
- a torch — illuminate certain areas whenever necessary;
Which will help doctors in facilitating the effectiveness of the teleconsultation.
3. WHAT THE DOCTORS CAN AND CAN’T DIAGNOSE.
So what are the conditions that can be diagnosed over video consultation you might ask? More common conditions such as:
- flu, cough, cold, sore throat
- fever or headache,
- diarrhoea, constipation or vomiting;
- rash, or cold sores;
- urinary tract infection;
- dermatological conditions; and
- other non-emergent medical issues
However, for other more complex conditions, including emergency situations or critical illnesses, patients are still advised to request a house call or visit the clinic for doctors to diagnose your condition.
4. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE DOCTORS DETERMINES THAT MY CONDITION IS NO SUITABLE FOR TELECONSULTATION?
When it brings to the doctors’ attention that your condition cannot be diagnosed over the phone, they will advise you to seek further treatment at the clinic or follow-up to a clinic for medical attention.
5. HOW DO I GET MY MEDICINE AND MC?
With every consultation on these apps, most of these doctors will deliver an MC along with your medication to your home, or even e-mail you an electronic copy, so you can skip going to the clinics. However, depending on the app, you may be required to pay a small delivery fee apart from the consultation fee for the delivery of your prescribed medication and/or MC.
For a list of telemedicine providers in Singapore visit MOH for more info.