A team from Specialist Outpatient Clinic J at SGH has come up with a simple, yet effective, solution to help patients identify the right medication they need.

  • Pictorial catalogue makes it easier for patients to indicate what drug they have used
  • Patients may be confused by medication with similar packaging
  • Inspired by how younger patients often took photos of their medication

The names and packaging of topical medications in different strengths are often similar – so how can patients know if they’re prescribed or requesting for the right medication?

A team from Clinic J at SGH, led by Senior Staff Nurse (SSN) Wong Wanjun, has come up with an effective solution to overcome this problem:

They have created a pictorial catalogue containing up to 150 most commonly prescribed topical medications to help patients quickly and accurately identify the medicines they have been using.

“We thought of something more pictorial which the patient can just point to,” said SSN Wong.

This project was conceptualised after observing how younger and more tech-savvy patients often took photos of their medications with their phones to show their doctors.

“Patients with a long history of skin conditions might have tried a number of therapies. During consultation, their doctors will spend time asking them what they have used and what was good for them to avoid prescribing something which might not be so effective,” she explained.

“Sometimes, it is only when the patients go to the pharmacy to fill their prescriptions that they realise they have been prescribed the medication they do not need."

"These patients then have to go back and consult the doctor again.”

Consultations can also become more time-consuming when the patients’ previous records are not with the clinic due to their frequent changes in doctors.

However, with the introduction of the pictorial catalogue, processes at the clinic have become more efficient.

Having the patient identify the medication in the catalogue only takes up to five to 10 minutes, as compared to the 15 to 20 minutes that it takes for the doctor or nurse to probe him.

This has led to shorter and more effective consultations, consequently reducing the waiting times for patients. In addition, the number of calls regarding wrong prescriptions has also dropped by half.

The team’s effort to improve patient care earned them a Singapore Health Age-Friendly Award last year.

“We didn’t expect to win as our project was a very simple initiative. More importantly, we feel that this chart can help our patients and doctors,” said SSN Wong.


The team behind this project consists of Senior Staff Nurse Wong Wanjun, Dr Koh Hong Yi, Nurse Clinician Lisa Chew Li Yong and Assistant Manager Ms Yeo Shuan Khiag.

Improving Patient Safety Through Visual Medication Identification was a winning poster in the Risk Management category at the 2014 Singapore Healthcare Management.

This project was first featured in the May-June 2015 issue of Singapore Health.