WHEN part-time clerk Lim Sheng Yun, 51, used to go to a polyclinic, hospital or a health centre under SingHealth, she often had to sit through a 45-minute interview to apply for Medifund financial aid.
She no longer has to do that as often now, after SingHealth rolled out its new One Medifund scheme.
Under this scheme, one social worker assesses an application for Medifund help on behalf of six SingHealth institutions, helping both patients and social workers save time.
Patients need to apply just once and update their information with social workers every six months.
The previous process was "time consuming for our patients and medical social workers", said Ms Esther Lim, senior manager for Medical Social Services at Singapore General Hospital (SGH).
The scheme covers six SingHealth institutions, namely Singapore General Hospital, National Heart Centre Singapore, National Cancer Centre Singapore, Singapore National Eye Centre, National Dental Centre and SingHealth polyclinics.
SingHealth has piloted this system since November. It has already saved medical social workers a combined total of 84 workdays in six months.
"We can better use the time to do other things like home visits," said SGH's Ms Lim.
The new system has also saved patients many trips shuttling between health institutions, medical social workers and pharmacies.
Patients with multiple problems might have to visit three or even four institutions. "These patients may be very sick, so we want to save time and hassle for them," said SGH's Ms Lim.
In the past, medical social workers from each institution specialised in specific diseases to better advise the patient, attend to his emotional needs and help with medical aid applications.
SingHealth has now educated more than 100 medical social workers on different types of diseases to help them adapt to the new system and assess the patients' needs.
Madam Lim Sheng Yun, who visits SGH and the National Heart Centre for kidney and heart conditions, welcomes the streamlined process.
"The new system is much more convenient, I don't need to repeat my story to medical social workers so many times.
"I can spend the time resting and recuperating," she said.
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