Patients with regular prescriptions for chronic conditions can now skip queues at some polyclinics to collect their medication from lockers at 34 7-Eleven stores in Singapore at any time of the day.

An initiative by the National Healthcare Group Polyclinics (NHGP) and National Healthcare Group Pharmacy (NHGPh), the service is only available to patients with chronic conditions with a valid doctor's prescription.

Currently, medication can only be collected at polyclinic branches or opt to have it delivered to their home.

Since the launch in March, more than 10 patients have tried the service as not many patients know about the new option yet, said the NHGP. The service is also being promoted to patients who collect only partial prescriptions as well.

Medicines are packed safely and securely

The drugs are packed in tamper-proof bags at the polyclinic pharmacy before being delivered to lockers in the stores within three working days. Patients then get notified through text when their medicine has arrived, with a one-time code to access the lockers and have 48 hours to collect the medication. If uncollected, the medicines will be delivered back to the polyclinic. Alternatively, patients can arrange for a second delivery or go to the polyclinic to pick it up personally. Eligible patients can submit their medication order through an app, the website or call NHGPh's contact centre at 6355 3000.

There is a SGD4 fee, similar to a home delivery, and payment can be made through online banking services, at any AXS self-service machines, or at the polyclinics.

"Our patients can be assured that all medication is packed safely and securely. We also work with our vendor to ensure their confidential details are not compromised during delivery," said Chan Soo Chung, executive director of NHGP.

Providing convenience to patients with regular prescriptions

7-Eleven was chosen as many patients do not live near the polyclinics. The aim was to deliver medication o places where most people congregate, and 7-Eleven stores are mostly located in malls or near housing districts.

The stores are also air-conditioned, therefore medication can "stay fresh and not deteriorate," Ms Chan explained.

The locker service caters to patients who want flexible timings when collecting their medication and those who have their healthcare needs ministered remotely.

"There are patients who, due to their lifestyles, do not have the time to sit at home and wait (for deliveries)," Ms Chan said. "It's to provide more options for such patients."

As for "telecare patients (who are stable with one or two medical conditions) do not need to visit the clinic often. For example, those with hypertension can monitor their blood pressure at home and key in their own readings into the system, which nurses can track," said Dr Lim Ziliang, deputy head of Yishun Polyclinic.

The polyclinic sees between 400 and 500 patients with chronic illnesses daily, he added.

"In the past, we'll ask them to go to the clinic to collect their prescriptions, but now we can potentially send the medication to them," he explained. MIMS

Read more:
Community pharmacist: Key to improving medication adherence
Errors in taking medication outside of healthcare facilities on the rise
Doctors do not take cost into consideration when ordering tests or prescribing drugs, study reveals