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Marine Parade exemplifies polyclinic bright spot

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There was community and staff engagement during the planning phase, says Dr Koong

THE bright spot in the latest Consumer Satisfaction Survey is polyclinics - this sub-sector in healthcare has a record score in 2015. Satisfaction with polyclinics continued to increase last year, moving up by 0.77 point, or 1.1 per cent, to an all time high of 69.6 points.

As example of the new age polyclinic is the Marine Parade Polyclinic, managed by SingHealth Polyclinics (SHP), which has recently been renovated as the previous infrastructure posed challenges in catering to the health needs of the ageing population.

The polyclinic has doubled in size - from a single to a two-storey polyclinic. During the planning phase, there was community and staff engagement, says Agnes Koong Ying Leng, clinic director of SingHealth Polyclinics - Marine Parade.

"With more space, we were able to provide new services such as x-ray services and also allow some services to run daily rather than few times a week. In addition, Marine Parade Polyclinic has also expanded its appointment capabilities so that patients are able to make appointment prior to their visits."

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The design of the new polyclinic also improves experience of care for patients with increased service capacity such as having more registration counters, more service rooms and a larger laboratory.

"A dedicated training area for future doctors has also been built to further support our focus in nurturing future generations of doctors. This allows family medicine residents to be closely supervised by family physicians while they provide care to patients at our clinic," says Dr Koong.

Overall, the objective of the Marine Parade Polyclinic's re-design was to increase comfort, accessibility and improve safety and care through more facilities, and improve experiences.

Dr Koong highlights that a new approach was adopted for creating a healing environment. It focuses on improving way-finding, through design thinking methodology. This methodology can also be applied to other areas where improvement of a particular experience is desired.

Through this methodology, several improvements were made to the interior design to improve the patient experience. "For better visibility, signs should have large fonts, placed at eye level and having colour codes to service zones. Also, elderly patients would often prefer some form of affirmation that they are in the right place, thus having a roving patient ambassador in the clinic is often helpful," says Dr Koong.

Done with seniors in mind, the redevelopment adopts age-friendly designs such as lifts, handrails, low counters and ramps for wheelchair access provide patients access to healthcare in a safe and conducive environment. A new sheltered ambulance bay was also created where patients can be transferred easily and safely from the clinic onto the ambulance.

"One of the key objectives of the redevelopment was to improve safety for our patients and staff. There are a number of considerations that we have implemented towards improving safety, for example increasing circulation space so that patients on wheelchairs and using assisted devices are able to ambulate and navigate around the clinic safely," says Dr Koong.

"For door designs, where possible, we used sliding doors to avoid accidental knocks and where not possible, we made vision panels to allow visibility while still observing privacy. Larger door frames are also designed where a high volume of patients is expected. Our toilets also incorporated wheelchair friendly toilets, grab bars, individual call bells in each cubicle, and anti-slip tiles."

The furniture in the clinic has been created for safety and comfort, especially for elderly patients. The chairs have an arm rest and automatic height adjustable couches. In addition, tables and cupboards do not have sharp edges.

Marine Parade Polyclinic has also tried to smooth out the bottlenecks typical in polyclinics. To help patients better plan their visit, it encourages all patients to make an appointment before visiting the clinic. They can do so online via the website or through the Health Buddy mobile application or by contacting the call centre. Patients without appointments are given an estimated timeslot to be seen upon registration.

Dr Koong says SHP will continue to leverage the use of technology to enhance patient care and processes; engage and form partnerships with the community in caring for patients.

 

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