Telemedicine services have increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, with more patients opting for virtual visits to doctors, especially for minor illnesses.
As part of the phasing in of the upcoming Healthcare Services Act, the Ministry of Health aims to license telemedicine services in the middle of 2022.
As part of the transitioning process prior to the licensing, MOH introduced a voluntary listing of direct telemedicine providers that have agreed to comply with certain measures. These measures include ensuring their doctors or dentist complete MOH telemedicine e-training.
Currently, the list consists of more than 600 telemedicine providers, including public hospitals, clinics and telemedicine firms.
Since April 1, only listed providers are able to offer Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) subsidies and MediSave for video consultations for follow-ups of chronic conditions.
In April last year – just before Singapore went into lockdown mode – patients were allowed to tap Chas subsidies and MediSave for video consultations for regular follow-ups covering seven chronic conditions, including diabetes, hypertension and anxiety.
Previously, Chas subsidies and MediSave were only applicable for regular follow-up video consultations for seven chronic conditions, including diabetes, hypertension and anxiety. Since October, this was extended to cover 20 chronic conditions such as osteoporosis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and ischaemic heart disease.
The Healthcare Services Bill was approved by Parliament in early January 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic went out of control around the world. At that time, the new law was slated to be implemented over three phases, from early 2021 to the end of 2022.
The new timeline is from September this year to March 2023.