Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Too many queues in polyclinic

I have a growth in my foot. My private doctor said that an X-ray is needed to determine the cause. He suggested that I go to the polyclinic to see if they can do the X-ray and identify the problem, in case surgery is needed,
I visited a polyclinic today for the first time in my life. I searched Google and found their opening time to be 8 am. I arrived at 830 am. The waiting area was more than half occupied. I got a queue number. I asked the staff how long is the waiting time for registration. I got the typical answer -don't know. She follows the usual habit  -how to avoid responsibility.
I observed that it takes 3 minutes to register a patient. There were 15 patients ahead of me. It should take 45 minutes to be registered. What is the point of attending a world class school system when the staff cannot make this estimate?
That was the first queue. I have to wait in a total of 6 queues to complete the visit:
1) To register
2) Wait for the doctor - kept in the dark on how long to wait or which room to enter
3) Wait for the X ray
4) Wait to see the doctor after the X ray
5) To register an appointment to visit the hospital - they still can't give me a date, as the hospital will call me back
6) To pay the bill.
The total visit took 3 hours, with 80% of the time spent in the 6 queues. Now, I now why Singaporeans love to queue!
But, they do provide comfortable seats. I could spend the time reading content from my iPad. And, if I were a worker, the wasted time will be on the employer's account. 
Now you know why it is so costly to run a business in Singapore!




6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mr Tan

Sorry to hear that you have wasted 3 hours to find out how does our polyclinic work? You can call a number to make appointment at 8am (state your preferred time) before visit but it won't reduce the waiting time much as appointment is never punctual. On average, it is around 2.5 to 3 hours' wait from arrival till final payment. You did not have to queue for prescription and it will take you another 30 to 45 minutes normally so you might have to wait much longer.

I observed that polyclinic's GP takes a break of 5 to 10 minutes between patients, unlike private doctors there is very few break so the helpers in the polyclinic cannot commit to your waiting time as they cannot question the GPs.

Furthermore, cost in visiting polyclinic is not always cheaper than private clinic, depending the type of prescription required. Most medications I used before were charged at street price. One thing for sure is you must prepare to spend half a day for such a visit.

Kin Lian Tan said...


I visited the polyclinic because I needed an Xray and I like to know the results on the same day. I may also need a referral to the hospital, if surgery is required.

I do not mind the 3 hours as they were productively spent with my iPad. The seats were comfortable - so the wait was all right.

But, if the polyclinic change their system, they can easily reduce the waiting time by half - as 80% of the time was spent on waiting which could be reduced with a better system. I hope that they are willing to hear what can be done - as I am usually quite good at finding an unusual but practical solution.

I am worried about the wasted time for young workers, which have to be borne by their employers. This adds to the high cost of doing business in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

Mr Tan

I agree with you that there are solutions to improve productivity for polyclinic. With the attitude of our civil servant today, it may be hard to get them admit they have adopted a bad practise for so long.

If the GP can send the prescription information to the pharmacy directly while patients making the trip to collect it, it will save some queuing time. The pharmacist should also focus in dispensing medication and leave the explanation to helpers.

Anonymous said...

The incentives are not in the right place to get the right behaviorial changes. On top of that the decision makers are not the customers, so there is a missing feedback in the loop

Anonymous said...

I have always used private clinics as I am covered by company insurance. However, as I was between jobs last month, I went to a poly clinic for the first time in my life. I made an appointment through the phone in the morning and was given a slot in the afternoon. I arrived on time, registered, then waited 20mins to see a doctor. After that, I paid a consultation fee of $12. Overall, the experience was very efficient and I was extremely impressed. The staff were very courteous and helpful.

Anonymous said...

Before 2015, I feedback to NHG for their poor service. They did not reply to me. I then feedback to my Woodgrove MP. He replied.

Since early-2015, the overall service at Woodland Poly has been improved. My daughter consulted a neighbourhood GP in past years. Now, she consult WP. She make an appointment online. She is a Chemical Engineer on Jurong Island.

Blog Archive