MediFund is a safety net for needy patients who still face financial difficulties with their remaining medical bills after receiving government subsidies and drawing on other means of assistance such as MediShield Life, private Integrated Shield Plans, MediSave and cash.
Since its launch in 1993, the eligibility assessment and information collected for MediFund applications have varied across the different healthcare institutions in Singapore. Patients often get confused by the differing work processes and frustrated at having to repeat their financial and social information to Medical Social Workers (MSW) from different institutions.
Together with the Ministry of Health, 42 MSWs from 26 public healthcare institutions formed a workgroup in September 2014 to align the practice guidelines. They worked on harmonising assessment guidelines, streamlining MediFund application work processes and developing a new national electronic MSW system.
The workgroup collected information on current financial assessment practices and work processes, and studied six different MSW systems across 26 public healthcare institutions. They adopted the best practices and studied the impact of a harmonised assessment and unified system on patient care and the healthcare system.
“Having such a large group work on a single project may sound daunting, but our team knew that we were working towards a common goal. Every member saw the importance of a harmonised system, and we were all committed right from the start,” said Esther Lim, Deputy Director, Regional Health System, SingHealth, who is one of the project directors.
The new system was launched in May 2019 after five years of tireless efforts by the team. Under this harmonised approach, approximately 900 MSWs, doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and other support staff can access the national electronic MSW system for better information sharing and smoother processing of MediFund applications. With over 300,000 MediFund cases shared across the public healthcare institutions each year, the impact of this initiative is significant.
It is anticipated that with the new electronic system, the process will be more efficient with better information sharing. The time saved from working around different systems has also allowed MSWs to devote more time to psychosocial care for their patients. The team hopes to eventually roll out the system to more social workers and social service providers from other sectors.
Inter-Cluster (National University Health System, National Healthcare Group, SingHealth)
Recipient of the Singapore Health Quality Service Awards (SHQSA) 2020 Special Mention Award - Patient Experience Improvement Category