SingHealth to replace paper medical certificates with digital MCs by 2020: GovTech

SingHealth to replace paper medical certificates with digital MCs by 2020: GovTech

doctor file
File photo of a doctor typing. 

SINGAPORE: Paper medical certificates (MC) issued by SingHealth institutions are expected to be replaced by digital MCs by 2020, the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) said.

Writing on its media platform TechNews on Monday (Sep 9), GovTech said patients will receive digital MCs under a new system called DigiMC.

The system has been piloted at the Singapore General Hospital and the National Heart Centre Singapore. Product manager Chong Zi Xin said 95 per cent of the 179 patients surveyed over a four-month period said they were satisfied with the new system.

GovTech said it plans to implement digital MCs across all SingHealth institutions by early 2020. They will be issued in parallel with hard copy MCs for a few months before the latter is eventually phased out.

About 1 million hard copy MCs were generated in 2017 by SingHealth, Singapore's largest healthcare cluster.

RECEIVING A DIGITAL MC

Patients who are issued digital MCs will receive an SMS text message containing a URL for accessing the digital MC.

They can forward the SMS or the URL to their employers, said product manager Annabelle Ng.

Digital MCs are less likely to be misplaced, she added, as SMS messages can be backed up on commercial Cloud services for later reference. The URL to the digital MCs does not expire. 

How DigiMC works
Patients that are issued digital medical certificate (MC) via DigiMC will receive an SMS text message containing a URL which they can use to access theire digital MC. (Image: MC.GOV.SG)

SECURITY FEATURES

To prevent unauthorised access, digital MCs will be locked with the patient's date of birth, GovTech said. This serves as an “additional safeguard” on the off chance the information is sent to the wrong phone number or a wrong mobile number was registered, it added.

“For now, it is a one-time unlock. Once the digital MC is unlocked, it can be forwarded, and subsequent users would not have to unlock it again,” said Ms Ng.

In the future, the development team may add more security features, GovTech said. The team plans to implement a relock with the patient's date of birth seven days after it is issued to avoid exposure in the long run. 

The digital MC will also need to be unlocked using the patient's date of birth for every subsequent view.

GovTech said patients will still be able to request for paper MCs after it has been phased out, should they require it. 

GovTech digital MC
DigiMC will be hosted on a government-affiliated web domain with URLs will containing a unique string of alphanumeric characters to ensure that each digital MC has a uniquely identifiable key. (Graphics: MC.GOV.SG)

CAN DIGITAL MCs BE DOCTORED?

To allay concerns about the authenticity of digital MCs, GovTech said that each of the documents generated via DigiMC will be hosted on a government-affiliated web domain. 

The URL will also contain a unique string of alphanumeric characters to ensure that each digital MC has a uniquely identifiable key, making it harder for the digital MC to be altered. 

“Even if the digital MC is downloaded and saved as a PDF, employers can still validate the document using the URL printed at the bottom of the digital MC,” said Mr Chong.

Source: CNA/nr

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