Skip the polyclinic visit and collect your medicine at a nearby convenience store instead.
That is what some chronic disease patients under the National Healthcare Group’s (NHG) chain of nine polyclinics have been able to do in recent months.
A system, which started in March, allows such patients to pick up medication from 34 7-Eleven stores across Singapore. The drugs are packed in the polyclinic pharmacy before being delivered to lockers in the stores.
Patients receive a text message when their medicine has arrived and access the lockers with a one-time code delivered to their mobile phones.
The idea is to offer patients the convenience of being able to collect their medication round the clock, rather than being constrained by the polyclinics’ operating hours.
Polyclinics under NHG typically close at 4.30pm on weekdays and 12.30pm on Saturdays. They are not open on Sundays and public holidays.
The service is available only for patients with chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, who have an NHG doctor’s prescription.
Such patients tend to already be familiar with their medication and would probably not need to talk to a pharmacist, said Dr Lim Ziliang, the deputy head of Yishun Polyclinic.
“Patients with chronic medication need to take it regularly,” he said.
“Once they have taken the medication, they are familiar with it.”
Each locker delivery costs $4 – the same as what NHG charges patients for delivering medication directly to their doorsteps. However, said Ms Chan Soo Chung, executive director of NHG Pharmacy, the home delivery timings do not suit everyone.
“There are patients who, due to their lifestyles, do not have the time to sit at home and wait (for deliveries),” she said.
“(The new service is meant) to provide more options for such patients.”
Medicine is packed in tamper-proof bags to protect the patients’ privacy.
If it is not picked up within 48 hours, it is sent back to the polyclinic.
Patients can then arrange for a second delivery, or simply go to the polyclinic to pick it up