This new app simplifies subsidised vaccinations for seniors | Healthcare Asia Magazine
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/OGP's official website

This new app simplifies subsidised vaccinations for seniors

Singapore’s health appointment system enables the elderly to book appointments using a QR code scan.

In July 2022, Singapore faced a grim reminder of the dangers of pneumonia when a four-year-old girl died from COVID-19 whilst also battling the respiratory disease, which is responsible for one-fifth of all deaths in the country. Despite the availability of life-saving pneumococcal and flu vaccines, less than 10% of Singaporeans above the age of 65 have taken both doses, prompting the government to seek innovative solutions.

As a response to this, software development firm Open Government Products (OGP) has stepped up to tackle this challenge by releasing a health appointment system (HAS) that made the program more accessible to the elderly.

“When it came to… accessibility, we found that it was quite difficult to get a vaccine. So that’s why we want to address this area,” said Dr. Nicola Lew, product and policy, for OGP.

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To launch the pilot program of the system, OGP, with the help of the government, will reach out to more than 600,000 senior citizens in Singapore.

Through the appointment system, they can now receive their Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS)-funded pneumococcal vaccines under the National Adult Immunisation Schedule (NAIS).

How the app works

Through a simple scan of a QR code, eligible adults aged 65 and above can access the app and book their vaccination appointment.

“They or their loved ones can scan a QR code and be directed to our website where they would be able to easily search for CHAS GP clinics available near them,” said Lew.

Clinics were invited to enrol in the HAS during its public launch on 14 August 2022. Lew said the app allows clinics to fully manage the availability of appointment slots with minimal administration required. 

If the pilot launch is successful, Lew said they will roll out the appointment system from 150 clinics to 300. “But we do hope that if the pilot does prove to be successful, we would like to expand it to include other vaccination types,” she added. 

Preparations 

One of the clinics that signed up for the pilot launch was DoctorAnywhere clinic headed by Dr. Raymond Ong.

The new appointment system allows them to notify applicants that there are still vaccine stocks at the inoculation site, Ong explained.

“[The app] assists the GPs in assuring us that there is a stream of patients coming in. [It compels them to be mindful that they] should stock more vaccines, prepare, and cater time for these patients as well,” he added.

Ong said they are also able to gauge the volume of demand through the appointment system. “I think that's something that most clinics will be able to handle as well, especially now that we have a system sort of keeping, informing us of demand,” he said.

DoctorAnywhere offers National Adult Immunisation such as influenza, pneumococcal conjugate, pneumococcal polysaccharide, tetanus, reduced diphtheria, acellular pertussis, human papillomavirus, Hepatitis B, measles, mumps and rubella, and varicella.

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