A new service in Singapore allows patients to pick up prescription medicine 24/7

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN) - The service, called Pilbox, was launched at a newly opened polyclinic; waiting time reduced by 40 per cent for users.

Time spent at the polyclinic has halved for part-time clinic assistant Juliana Wee in the past few months. The 64-year-old no longer has to wait to pick up medicine and pay for it at the pharmacy.

A new service called Pilbox allows patients to pick up their medicine at any time of the day - and without seeing a pharmacist.

With this service, patients will be alerted by an SMS when their medicine is ready for collection, and they can go to one of 40 lockers any time to pick it up.

Pilbox was launched in August at Bedok Polyclinic, which recently reopened at the new community hub Heartbeat@Bedok.

 "I've cut my waiting time by half, from 30 minutes to 15 minutes. I used to have to wait after seeing the doctor, then I would have to go to the counter, wait for my name and pay. (Pilbox) is much easier because I can go any time," said Wee.

Dr Juliana Bahadin, clinic director and consultant at Bedok Polyclinic, which comes under SingHealth, told reporters on Tuesday (Nov 14) that Pilbox has reduced waiting time at the pharmacy by 40 per cent for users.

Pilbox also features a self-cooling system, which allows a wider range of medication, including insulin, a common and essential refill prescription drug that requires cooling, to be collected through self-service lockers.

Christina Lim, head of pharmacy operations at SingHealth Polyclinics, said that as a precaution, the lockers cannot store any addictive medicine, such as cough medicine or opioid drugs. "The area is closely monitored and there are plenty of CCTVs (closed-circuit television cameras) to make sure no one can abuse Pilbox," she added.

Pilbox was piloted in Marine Parade Polyclinic in May 2016 and will later be introduced in Punggol Polyclinic when it opens soon.

Four Seek MyHealth kiosks that allow patients with chronic conditions to check their blood pressure or body mass index have also been introduced at Bedok Polyclinic, where 70 per cent of patients suffer from chronic conditions. The kiosks can also ask patients questions to monitor their conditions, based on their history.

Dr Bahadin said 100 to 130 patients have replaced conventional pre-consultation by using this service daily.

Madam Loo Yoke Ching, 71, a housewife, said: "I have hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol. The kiosks are important for me. They save me time (having to see a doctor)."

Bedok Polyclinic has also introduced integrated care services, such as a diabetes and pre-diabetes management programme.

The polyclinic also now offers new podiatry, physiotherapy and diagnostic radiology services to spare patients the trouble of having to go to different hospitals for these services.

SingHealth Polyclinics intends to roll out technology-based services such as Pilbox and Seek MyHealth kiosks and integrated care services at all its polyclinics eventually.