GPs in primary care networks to offer more chronic illness services
Patients with chronic illnesses will receive more comprehensive treatments with the setting up of new networks that will see private clinics offer additional services, such as counselling by nurses and health screening.
Starting this month, 340 private clinics have been grouped into 10 primary care networks (PCNs) islandwide. Of these, eight are new networks.
Under the system, general practitioners (GPs) in a network can pool their resources to offer extra services, such as diabetic eye and foot screening, which they could not provide because of high costs.
A full-time nurse counsellor is also out of the question for a small clinic, said Dr Wong Tien Hua, who runs Mutual Healthcare Medical Clinic in Sengkang.
"We are not a hospital, we don't have such resources. But with the scheme, we can share these resources with other GPs who are not even our business partners," Dr Wong added.
The PCN scheme was started as a ground-up initiative by Frontier Healthcare in 2012.
It is part of a broader strategy by the Ministry of Health to shift care from the hospital to the community by letting patients receive effective care closer to home.
The new networks join two existing ones run by Frontier Healthcare and the National University Health System.
A budget of $225 million has been set aside by the ministry to support the scheme for the next five years.
Senior Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min said yesterday that his ministry had plans to expand the scheme since the first network was piloted in 2012. The 10 PCNs account for less than 25 per cent of all GPs.
"If we can reach 25 per cent of GP clinics, that will be a very good result," said Dr Lam.