In face of the Covid-19 pandemic, telemedicine is a safer and effective alternative offered to patients so that they continue to receive care remotely without the need to get out of their homes. Find out the latest telemedicine consultation and care services provided by NHCS.

Telehealth refers to a broad array of communication technologies used to deliver healthcare. While Singapore is increasingly digital, the advances in telehealth has been relatively slower as healthcare delivery in Singapore is predominantly physical, that is face-to-face. The emergence of COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019), however, has been a catalyst for the adoption of telehealth technologies and driving the launch of many telemedicine services in healthcare. A typical telemedicine consultation uses conferencing technology, to allow patients to remotely receive consultations and medical advice from a physician or care team.

Caring for Patients Remotely

At NHCS, several clinical departments jumped on the telehealth wagon last year; offering various telemedicine services to continue to provide care to patients remotely, so that patients can minimise unnecessary travelling and reduce exposure risk to infection. This also allows patients and their caregivers to save time and money from commuting. Since April 2020, NHCS has successfully launched a myriad of telemedicine services such as doctor consultations, nurse counselling and post-surgery care advice. As of February 2021, more than 800 telephone and video consultations were conducted for patients in NHCS.

NHCS provides a wide range of telemedicine services, including:
  • Self-Testing and Monitoring INR (International Normalised Ratio) at Home
  • Physiotherapy Telehealth Service 
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation Tele-Consultation
  • Intravenous Epoprostenol Therapy Nursing Video Consult
  • Cardiothoracic Surgery Video/Phone Consultation for Cardiology Patients at Sengkang Hospital

Selection Criteria and Eligibility for NHCS Telemedicine Services

For patient safety, there are sets of guidelines and criteria on the eligibility of patients for the respective telemedicine services. Patients will be assessed by their care team (which may include physician, nurse clinician, physiotherapist and more) on their suitability such as existing health
condition, medication compliance and IT competency. 

The table provides a general criteria for patient enrolment into telemedicine services:

suitable criteria for telemedicine

how nhcs tele-consultation works

A look at two types of our telemedicine services

Tele-consultation for patients with stable and/or low cardiac risk

The tele-consultation service allows our doctors to follow up with existing patients with stable and/or low cardiac risk. Tele-consultation serves to be equivalent to in-person consultation. 

Patients are pre-identified for their suitability for enrolment to the teleconsultation based on the criteria as outlined in table above.

Tele-counselling for patients with post-cardiac event/ procedure

The tele-counselling service allows the nurses to assess and provide health education to patients who have been discharged within one to two weeks after a cardiac event, procedure or surgery. This helps reduce the risk of post-surgery complications. As of November 2020, over 120 sessions were conducted.

NHCS Cardiac Rehabilitation Unit will identify patients who require medical management after a cardiac event such as acute coronary syndrome, cardiac procedures like angioplasty and cardiac surgery like coronary artery bypass grafting. During the tele-counselling session which takes approximately 45 minutes, the nurses will provide patients with information and advice pertaining to cardiac risk factors, behavioural lifestyle modifications such as smoking cessation and exercise regime, and reinforce the importance of chronic disease management.

The overall response to the telemedicine services had been positive. Many patients shared that such services had helped save travelling time and were convenient. In particular, patients shared that the rehabilitation telecounselling was a good alternate route of communication, during the nation’s Circuit Breaker period when commuting was restricted. Although some still prefer a face-to-face counselling, they felt that the tele-counselling was a good way for patients to ensure compliance on healthy eating and regular exercise.

  • NHCS telemedicine services are optional and not all conditions are suitable for tele-consultation. Please consult your doctor for more information.
  • This service is not suitable for you if you are feeling unwell and/or a physical examination is required. Do not wait for a telephone or video consultation if you are feeling unwell. Please proceed to your nearest polyclinic, GP clinic or Emergency Department.
  • For appointment matters, please email or call 6704 2000.

This article is from Murmurs Issue 38 (September – December 2020). Click here to read the full issue.