Singapore, 26 March 2020 – With effect from 31 March 2020, patients visiting hospitals, national specialty centres and polyclinics under SingHealth* will receive digital medical certificates (DigiMC) by default, in place of paper medical certificates (MCs). DigiMC, a system that digitalises the issuance and submission of MCs, is a Smart Nation initiative developed by the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech).
This move comes after a successful DigiMC pilot across all SingHealth institutions since 1 December 2019, where patients receive digital MCs alongside a hardcopy version. More than 400,000 digital MCs have been issued since the pilot started, with positive feedback from patients and employers. With that, SingHealth and GovTech are implementing the next phase of the initiative – issuing digital MCs only.
Digital MCs, unlike paper MCs, are less likely to be misplaced, damaged or forged, and are hassle-free for record-keeping purposes. They can also be easily shared among healthcare providers, patients and their employers via an online secure link that will not expire. Patients are encouraged to submit the digital MCs to their employers; should they still require a paper MC, they will be able to request for it within the same day of their clinic visit or hospital discharge at no charge. [See Annex for details on how DigiMC works]
Dr Goh Min Liong, Group Chief Medical Informatics Officer, SingHealth, said, “SingHealth continuously explores new ways to leverage technology to enhance the patient experience. The issuance of digital MCs offers patients greater convenience, streamlines clinical and administrative workflows, and is environmentally-friendly. We have been working closely with GovTech to pilot DigiMC across our institutions, while taking in staff and patient feedback to ensure a smooth transition as we switch fully to paperless MCs.”
Mr Chong Zi Xin, Product Manager for DigiMC at Open Government Products, GovTech, said, "We have been working with employers to help them understand and accept digital MCs more widely, and have seen a steady increase in digital MC submissions to employers. To that end, we have also recently introduced a Download PDF button, allowing patients to easily save and share their digital MC to smoothen the medical leave application process.”
SingHealth and GovTech first piloted DigiMC in 2018 at selected clinics and wards at the Singapore General Hospital and National Heart Centre Singapore, and subsequently extended it across all SingHealth hospitals, national specialty centres and polyclinics. Of more than 17,700 patients surveyed, over 80 per cent were satisfied with the DigiMC initiative. Most patients found it convenient to use and easy to retrieve their digital MC using the unique online link provided, and to forward it to their employer or relevant parties.
“Once, I accidentally misplaced my paper MC which was due for submission to my employer. Thankfully, SGH had given me the digital version of it, which I could easily retrieve from online and print for use. It was fuss-free and saved me a lot of trouble. Digital MCs are convenient as I can keep track, view or print my MCs on my own at anytime and anywhere, without having to rely on hardcopies. They are also very easy to access, and I believe anyone – even those who are less tech-savvy – will be able to use them well,” said Ms Malathi D/O Vasudevan, an SGH patient who received digital MCs under the DigiMC pilot in SingHealth.
*All SingHealth institutions except the National Neuroscience Institute located at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.