First clinic to treat chronic illnesses opens in Singapore

SINGAPORE - Patients with chronic conditions will soon enjoy shorter waiting times and be able to seek treatment closer to their homes.

The Frontier Family Medical Clinic (FMC) in Clementi from Monday started treat patients with chronic conditions who no longer require specialist care.

Currently, patients with stable chronic conditions - such as diabetes and hypertension - continue to visit specialist outpatient clinics at hospitals.

It was announced earlier this year by the Health Ministry that FMCs would be set up in Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Clementi and Lakeside. The other three will open to the public later this year.

Lower- and middle-income patients on the Community Health Assist Scheme will also continue to enjoy subsidised health care at these private clinics. Other patients can use their Medisave.

The Frontier FMC is a partnership between the National University Health System and the private Frontier Healthcare Group.

Doctors and nurses will attend mainly to patients referred by the National University Hospital but walk-in patients are also welcome.

The FMC will also offer allied services such as dietetics, podiatry and physiotherapy as well as diabetic foot screening and retinal photography.

"Stable chronic patients will be able to establish a better physician-patient relationship that will help a lot, for example, in terms of compliance," said NUH chief executive officer Joe Sim.

The health-care workers from the hospital and Frontier group will work together to ensure doctors get a full picture of each patient's condition.

"Every patient with chronic conditions is assigned to a personal family physician for continuity of care," said Frontier Healthcare Group CEO Tham Tat Yean.

These assigned physicians will follow through with patients each time they visit the clinic.

Should they need further specialist care, they will be referred back to NUH or hospitals that treated them previously.

More than 150 patients have agreed to switch to the clinic in the next two months. Its aim is to treat 1,000 patients this year.

Mr K. X., 39, who only wanted to be known by his initials, made the switch to Frontier FMC and is pleased that he can make appointments on weekends, which he said was not possible at NUH.

"There is also more time spent (with the doctors), so I get more advice and attention from them," said the assistant manager, who suffers from diabetes and hypertension.

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