Patients to consult doctor by computer

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 April, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 April, 1998, 12:00am

Virtual visits to the doctor from the comfort of your own home will soon be a reality in Singapore.

From May 1, residents will be able to consult their GP by computer over the high-speed SingaporeOne network.

Patients will be able to show doctors their ailments using live video-conferencing facilities linked to their television or computer and receive immediate advice.

Under supervision a patient would be able to take temperature or blood pressure readings which would help a doctor decide if the patient needed to physically visit the clinic.

Telemedicine is not meant to replace actual consultations and it is initially intended to deal with only minor medical complaints.

The service is being pioneered in Singapore by online service provider Health Online which is poised to kick-off its two-month trial in less than a fortnight.

Doctors have indicated fees would range between S$10 (HK$48) and S$25 for every 10 minutes of consultation time.

'It must be affordable,' said Anthony Soh, Health Online's general manager.

Michael Yap, assistant chief executive of the National Computer Board which is helping pioneer the SingaporeOne project, has high hopes telemedicine will become commonplace.

By the end of this year, every home in Singapore should be hooked up to SingaporeOne.

The network aims to give all Singaporeans access to telemedicine through Singapore Telecom's Magix service or Singapore Cable Vision's modem service.