- New process benefitted more than 26,000 patients in 2018

- Surgery date and preparation information sent via SMS


9 May 2019 – Patients going for planned surgery now receive pre-surgery preparation instructions and administrative information in the comfort of their own home via SMS - eliminating an average 45-minute wait time to see a nurse for a 10-minute session to receive the same information.

The new process of scheduling planned surgery has benefitted more than 26,000 patients among those who underwent planned surgery in SGH in 2018.
Now, patients can go home right after their consultation and confirmation with their surgeons to proceed with the surgery. They are then informed of their surgery date, pre-surgery instructions and estimated bill size via SMS within the same day. For example, in Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, patients going for knee replacement will now receive instructions such as fasting before surgery via SMS. Previously, patients have to wait for 45 minutes at the clinic to be briefed.
The project kicked-off in January 2016, and as of December 2018, nine out of SGH’s 13 surgical disciplines have introduced the new process of information flow. 
“SGH firmly believes that patients should spend their time with us receiving care, not attending to administrative matters. With this conviction, we rethought our processes to transform the way we deliver care and the way we work. We are pleased to be able to cut patient waiting time,” said Lee Jiunn Kee, Deputy Director, Admitting Services, SGH.

Better deployment of nurses and up skill of Patient Service Associates

Prior to the change, 40 clinically-trained nurses performed administrative tasks such as scheduling of surgery and briefing patients on pre-surgery preparation instructions. With this new process, SGH has started replacing these nurses with Patient Service Associates (PSAs) to take over scheduling of surgeries. As of December 2018, 13 of the 40 scheduling nurses have been redeployed to patient care such as clinical duties in treatment rooms and patient education.
This change is made possible by an earlier initiative in 2016 when SGH successfully integrated its surgery order form with other patient record systems. The electronic surgery order form captures all essential information and prompts staff to ensure all pre-admission tests are ordered and completed, greatly enhancing patient care and safety. This streamlining of process and information also enables non-clinical staff to be trained to take over the task of scheduling surgery.
SGH developed a comprehensive programme of job redesign to equip the PSAs to acquire the knowledge needed for their new role. This included arranging for them to shadow the scheduling nurses and providing hands-on training to read and understand the surgery order forms. These PSAs also undergo competency certification before undertaking surgery scheduling.

Future plans

By the first quarter of 2020, SGH plans to roll out the new process of scheduling planned surgery to its remaining 4 surgical disciplines.  
Information specific to each type of surgery and customised to patient profile needs to be compiled. The project team will then develop the algorithm before the new process can be implemented in a clinic.
SGH targets to have 24 PSAs handle scheduling of all planned surgeries. The administrative tasks previously done by 40 staff can now be done by 24 because the integration of the surgery order form with other patient record systems has eliminated the need for repeated entries and automated some work. 
Media Contact: 
Adele Tan
Singapore General Hospital
Tel: 6326 6690
Email: adele.tan.y.y@sgh.com.sg