SINGAPORE: Close to 500 direct telemedicine service providers have declared to meet the Ministry of Health's (MOH) process and governance measures and have been listed on its website as of Feb 22.
The Health Ministry has introduced a voluntary listing of direct telemedicine service providers to help patients "make an informed choice" when selecting a provider, the ministry said on Friday (Feb 26).
This list will comprise service providers that have committed to meeting essential training, process and governance measures that are stipulated by MOH.
"Telemedicine is increasingly becoming an important feature of our healthcare landscape, by offering greater convenience, improving accessibility to medical care and medications, and strengthening continuity of care," the ministry said.
The service complements the functions of general practitioners, polyclinics, specialists and the immediate and long-term care sector, it added.
"In the past year, telemedicine has been an important pillar in our fight against COVID-19, by ensuring patients have access to healthcare while supporting safe distancing measures and mitigating the spread and exposure to the virus," said MOH in a press release.
With the growth in the number of telemedicine providers over the last few years, there is a "need to ensure such providers offer services that prioritise patient safety and welfare", said MOH.
"There is also a need to help patients identify providers who are aware of the risks of telemedicine, have put in place mitigations to address these risks, and agree to comply with MOH’s measures," the Health Ministry added.
Before direct telemedicine services are licensed under the Healthcare Services Act (HCSA) in 2022, MOH will, in the interim, list providers that have committed to abide by specific measures.
To be eligible for listing, providers must have their doctors and/or dentists complete MOH's telemedicine e-training, put in place professional and process measures to provide safe telemedicine care and ensure compliance to these measures, as well as submit an application form to MOH to be listed. They will have to declare compliance with MOH's measures.
From Apr 1, only listed providers will be allowed to offer Community Health Assistance Scheme (CHAS) subsidies and/or submit MediSave claims for the follow-up of chronic conditions via video consultations under the Chronic Disease Management Programme (CDMP), the ministry said.
Patients who have scheduled a follow-up for their CDMP condition through video consultation on or after Apr 1, and intend to use CHAS subsidies or MediSave, should verify beforehand that their provider is listed.
“While listing is voluntary, MOH strongly encourages providers to participate in the listing, and to address risks and comply with measures early. Doing so will facilitate providers in their transition to becoming licensees under the Healthcare Services Act (HCSA) in 2022,” MOH said.
The full listing of direct telemedicine service providers can be found on MOH's website.