Doctors-On-Wheels offer multilingual healthcare communication
The team can cater several languages and local dialects, thus creating a more comfortable environment for the patients.
Communication barrier is not an issue for the subsidised medical service Doctors-On-Wheels due to its team of healthcare professionals who are multilingual, according to SATA CommHealth.
Ooi Seong Thean, a resident physician from SATA CommHealth, said that aside from affordability, part of the reasons why Doctors-On-Wheels is the preferred course of treatment is its flexibility in communication.
“Typically, the team is formed by a doctor or a nurse and a care ambassador. And most of the time, we are multilingual. We have no issue understanding English, Mandarin, Bahasa, and Tamil, and at the same time, we are also well versed in local dialects, like Hokkein, Teochew and Cantonese,” he said.
Doctors-On-Wheels episodes of care have increased by 48 percent in 2023 compared to last year– one of the highest uptakes recorded since its implementation in 2007.
Thean said that the surge is attributed to the ageing population of Singapore who are not eligible for the Singapore’s Ministry of Health homecare services.
“These people find it very challenging to travel to a polyclinics or healthcare facility, and they are not able to tolerate the wait there. Most of these elderly do not have an active income. And they also find that the neighbourhood, our general practice, GP clinics are costly and beyond what they can afford,” he said.
Due to SATA CommHealth board of directors allocating more funds, the Doctors-On-Wheels initiative could visit more locations frequently with its growing partner communities.
“The other thing is Doctors-On-Wheels, we also aligned with our new, Healthier SG initiative by our MOH. So our community partners were educated and they recognise the importance of preventive care. Therefore, with this core component in top-down view service, this leads to increased support and participation in the programs,” Thean said.
He highlighted affordability as one of the main reasons why the program is preferred by patients, saying that it offers free medical assistance and eliminate travel time which makes it convenient for patients.
“We try to eliminate the need for patients to travel to other healthcare facilities, and that helps them save their time and their efforts,” he said, “We offer zero out-of-pocket service to all the patients that includes our consultations, the appropriate blood tests and imaging investigations so patient doesn't need to pay anything for this service.”
SATA CommHealth is planning to expand of Doctors-On-Wheels in the country and increase partnership with community organisations.
Doctors-On-Wheels is currently visiting 41 sites across Singapore as of August this year.
“We try to forge more partnerships with this community organisation. And with that, they can help us with resources, infrastructures, and that will help to better address the specific community health care needs,” Thean said.