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     FrontPage Edition: Fri 5 January 2007

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Survey on polyclinics in Singapore


Survey on Polyclinics

In an independent Patient Satisfaction Survey commissioned by the Ministry of Health on 8,200 polyclinic patients*, 7 in 10 respondents found that polyclinics delivered value for money on the overall service quality and facilities.
Performance however varied among the polyclinics.
Key Findings
Over 67 per cent of the respondents rated the overall polyclinic experience to be above their expectations. 71 per cent said they would recommend to their friends to seek treatment at polyclinics.
On the positive aspects, the survey showed that the public generally found polyclinics doctors to be professional, caring and friendly.
Other areas they were satisfied with included
(a) the friendliness and helpfulness of nurses who were caring;
(b) good services by the doctors who gave clear explanations; and
(c) the physical environment at polyclinics.
Please refer to ANNEX A for the detailed findings.
The survey also highlighted the areas where patients would like to see further service improvements.
Topping the list of desired improvement measures were
(a) shorter waiting times to see the doctor, and
(b) faster turnaround time for doctor-patient consultation.
Polyclinics Attendances and Waiting Times
Polyclinics saw a total of 317,755 attendances in Nov 06.
The heaviest patient attendances were seen at Ang Mo Kio (27,041) and Jurong (24,275), more than double the volumes seen at polyclinics such as Queenstown (9,345), Marine Parade (10,393) and Outram Polyclinics (10,550) - the lowest in attendances among polyclinics. Please see ANNEX B.
Among the 317,755 attendances, 103,884 were acute cases (33%), 154,236 were chronic cases (48%) and 59,635 were **non-morbid cases (19%).
Some polyclinics see a heavier load of chronic cases, which require longer consult time by the doctor for case review, follow-up and patient education.
The polyclinics where chronic patients made up 60% and more of attendances were Bukit Merah (60%), Geylang (60%), Marine Parade (63%), Queenstown (63%) and Outram (69%).
In a separate survey of waiting times (Jul-Sep 06), most polyclinics*** were able to achieve median registration waiting times (i.e. the waiting time to register a patient on his arrival) that fall within 10 minutes, and median consult waiting times (i.e. the waiting time to see a doctor after registration) that fall between 20 to 40 minutes. Please see details at ANNEX C.
Key improvements
Over the years, polyclinics have tried to improve on their services. More doctors have been deployed to meet rising patient load. We have now reduced the average patient load to 58 per doctor per day, a vast improvement from the past.
Based on the feedback from the survey, polyclinics will continue to enhance the work flow and processes. Some key measures in the pipeline include:
  • Using information technology such as tele-radiology, e-lab ordering and e-prescription to speed up the consultation process and reduce waiting time for test results.
  • Upgrading of clinics to bring about greater patient comfort. Most clinics are now air-conditioned, where feasible. Clinic chairs are progressively replaced by elderly- friendly ones.
  • Improving the appointment system and priority queues for the frail elderly and infants to reduce their waiting time; including extending the appointment system to lab and x-ray services.
  • Have pre-registration counter staff identify families with infants and the frail elderly to assist these groups of patients early so as to reduce their waiting time at the polyclinics.
  • Putting up "peak" and "off-peak" time's signages so that patients are kept informed of the anticipated waiting period.
To minimise patients' waiting time, we would like to advise patients to avoid, if possible, peak periods i.e. the early mornings.
Chronic care patients on follow-up, who form the majority of polyclinic patients, are advised to keep to their given appointment slots. Non-morbid patients who come for immunisation are encouraged to make prior appointments.

* A total of 8,200 patients were interviewed from May to August 2006. Patients were first interviewed at the polyclinics while they were waiting for their consultation. This was subsequently followed up by a telephone interview.  The survey was carried out by an independent survey firm.

** Non-morbid attendances refer to cases such as immunisation or health screening.

*** Geylang Polyclinic had the longest median waiting times for both registration (26 min) and consultation (58 min).  Clementi Polyclinic has the shortest median wait time for registration (1 min) while Pasir Ris and Sengkang Polyclinics had the shortest median consult waiting times (21 min).

More..... (Annexes)

Source: Press Release 30 Dec 2006

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