TeleConsult is a big step forward for healthcare. In the same way that surgeons learn new surgical procedures, the Orthopaedic Surgery Team at NTFGH continues to master its instruments, establish workflows and refine through practice.
In 2020, telemedicine enabled our speech therapists to help their patients receive continual care despite the disruption brough about by the pandemic. It has relieved patient anxiety in some while others have found ti to be equally effective as physical consult.
The NUHS CareHub first started its nursing TeleConsult in 2019 to complement home visits to improve efficiency in providing patient care and to achieve good recovery outcomes. During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, patients whose conditions did not require physical in-person examinations continue to receive care via TeleConsult.
The National University Centre for Organ Transplantation (NUCOT) worked hard to overhaul its workflows, coordinated logistics and successfully conquered obstacles like rescheduling of appointments, keeping patients updated on clinic instructions and pre-empting changes from the Ministry. Click here to learn more on how the centre uses TeleConsult since COVID-19 hit us last year.
Our Service Associates (SAs) and volunteer Digital Ambassadors (DAs) play a key role in educating, as well as showing patients and caregivers how to participate in a TeleConsult at NUHS institutions.
The team, lead by A/Prof Raymond Ngo, Head & Senior Consultant, Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) - Head & Neck Surgery (Ng Teng Fong General Hospital) is working hard to provide TeleConsult where possible.
The operations teams behind our TeleConsult service are key enablers of the new roll-out which has benefitted both our physicians and patients, particularly in view of this heightened vigilance where all of us are encouraged to stay home and stay safe.
Telemedicine has come in handy for Kris Tong, Senior Occupational Therapist, Dr Wendy Teo, Senior Resident and Dr Lim Zhixue, Resident who work in the Department of Hand and Reconstructive Microsurgery at NUH.
This is what they have to say about their experience with Telemedicine.
Ms Kris Tong: When I first started doing tele-rehabilitation, I did not think it was possible to replicate a face-to-face physical examination via TeleConsult. However, over time, our team has been able to come up with innovative methods over the video medium which made it possible to gather equivalent information to a physical consult. For example, I can review a patient's movement or ability to make a fist using their unaffected hand as a visual comparison.
Dr Wendy Teo: During the pandemic, we have had to rely on teleconsultations to overcome restrictions while continuing to provide quality care. In doing so, we have come to realise the numerous benefits of teleconsultations - they are useful for patients with stable conditions, beneficial to patients who need reassurance, and helpful with checking in on patients prior to giving them an open date.
Hand surgery is perhaps an ideal specialty that is well-suited for telemedicine, as part of our practice encompassess caring for patients with conditions that can be managed in the outpatient setting such as trigger finger, de quervain's tenosynovitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Dr Lim: If appropriate return advice to seek a face-to-face consult is given, provision of safe quality care can continue. In fact, telemedicine allows us to reach out to a wider population (e.g. the eldery who may have trouble commuting, especially if they have family members working from home who can help with the set-up).
TeleConsult has also been a gamechanger for the Pharmacy team at NUHS who can now bring greater convenience to our patients to make their patient journey an even more seamless one.
Dietitians at NUHS are constantly seeking innovative methods to help patients achieve their health goals without having to make a trip to the hospital. For instance, telemedicine and the Nutritionist Buddy (nBuddy) app allows our patients to reach out to their dietitian conveniently with just a touch of a button.
Learn more about how some of our institutions manage such an outstanding feat below.
National University Hospital
We adopted a more centralised change management model to dedicate every Friday afternoon to TeleConsult-related work, and provided more training for our clinicians and operations staff.
Ng Teng Fong General Hospital
At the initial stage, it is important to have a strong core team of clinicians and operations champions who are passionate about advocating Telemedicine. Their belief in adopting Telemedicine is crucial in forming close collaborations, allowing the team to persevere through initital setbacks, and make continual tweaks before establishing a working model for TeleConsult.
Given that TeleConsults provide immense benefits to our patients, it is important to keep in mind that we are doing this for them, and have a willingness to change the way we do things. Our dedicated teams of clinicians and operations staff have continually improved the integration of TeleConsult into our daily work - to the extent that it is not much different from our physical Specialist Outpatient Clinic process.