Singapore

MOH studying how doctors can treat patients through video calls

The Health Ministry (MOH) is studying how doctors can diagnose and treat patients through video calls, as part of its new "regulatory sandbox" to encourage innovation in healthcare.

The "sandbox" - known as the Licensing Experimentation and Adaptation Programme - was mentioned in Parliament last month.

Telemedicine services are the first to come under the programme, which was officially launched yesterday.

"Our plan is to eventually regulate telemedicine as a licensed healthcare service after the successful completion of the regulatory sandbox," said MOH.

Telemedicine is not yet regulated here, although the ministry plans to do so under the upcoming Healthcare Services Act, which will be tabled in Parliament later this year.

"It has the potential to enhance productivity and cost-effectiveness, and become an impactful enabler in Singapore's healthcare landscape," the ministry said.

The idea behind the regulatory sandbox is to give patients early access to new healthcare models in a "safe and controlled environment".

If successful, these services could become mainstream.

Two companies - RingMD and WhiteCoat - are part of the new scheme.

Both let users consult a general practitioner via a smartphone app.

Besides talking to a doctor through video calls, people can arrange for prescribed medication to be home-delivered, and receive virtual medical certificates if necessary.

RingMD chief executive Justin Fulcher said: "We believe that technology can increase the convenience of receiving healthcare without affecting quality of care, safety of the patient, or the security of their personal data."

RingMD charges $20 for a basic consultation that lasts less than 10 minutes.

Those who want their medication delivered to them will have to pay a delivery fee on top of medication costs.

MEDICAL & HEALTH