If it ain’t broke…

… why fix it?

That’s what I thought again and again after taking mum to Tan Tock Seng Hospital for another of her blood tests, prior her appointment with one of her 2 regular doctors (endocrinologist and geriatrician) who require a blood screening be4 appointment.

In the past year or so, it was a breeze to get the blood screening team to see mum. We just dropped in any time up to just a week be4 the doctor’s appointment and in a few minutes mum blood was drawn and we would be on our way.

Today, it was still a breeze but we went thru one more step. Instead of going straight to the blood screening room after registration on arrival, this time we were given a number and had to wait to be called to be registered. After that, we had to wait again to be called for the blood-taking.

And no, it had nothing to do with a new registration process but the fact that TTSH clinics have introduced a new procedure. Even for blood tests one must have an appointment!

We had been informed about this some time back that the hospital is introducing blood tests by appointments, altho walk-in would still be allowed, grudgingly. Hence having no appointment today, we were subjected to one more step, one more waiting number!

I prefer the walk-in method and had told the staff so last year because it’s very stressful to get an 87-year-old with MCI problems to be on time for appointments.

I understand completely that there can’t be walk-ins for specialists, as their time is very precious and their patient load huge.

And I’ve always made sure that mum turns up early to see her specialists: better that we wait for the doctors than they wait for us.

I think I know why TTSH has introduced an appointment system for blood testing: to ensure better workflow and staff deployment.

What it should consider also is that an appointment system takes away the flexibility of patients who need to visit the hospital frequently. And perhaps lead to more no-shows or late arrivals.

Until TTSH started allowing patients to have their blood tests done a few days be4 the actual appointment to see the specialists, the old and chronic sick had to endure longer stretches of hanging around the hospital, up to perhaps two hours to have their blood tested be4 their appointment.

Sometimes the test results weren’t available in time for their appointments; so either the doctor had to do without their guidance — which defeated the purpose of the tests — or the patient had to wait until the results were available, which could mean he/she would go back to the end of the doctor’s waiting queue.

Now that we have blood testing by appointment, I fear my mother may have to go back to same day testing, rather than have the leisure of doing the tests another day, at a time convenient to us.

This is because I might as well lump together the stress of keeping appointments to one visit rather than spread it over two visits– when blood tests and seeing specialists have to be done by appointment!


4 thoughts on “If it ain’t broke…

  1. It would be nicer if patients can take the blood test at the nearest polyclinics or even at a GP and then have the results sent by the lab to TTSH. If you think about it, it’s all about ensuring the right tests ( standardization of blood test type ) and ensuring that the results are tied to the right patient and sent to the right doctor/specialist.

    In the book “The world is flat”, X-rays were remotely analyzed by outsourced India workers. In the same light, maybe 50 (?) years from now, specialist can even see the patients remotely via a video call. That would save a physical visit. Maybe by then, the specialist can even work from his home.

  2. Easier said than done, Uncle K.

    GPs blood test results take at least a week to arrive. Specialists at TTSH want tests to be within a one-week window be4 the appointment, which means abt five days be4 seeing doctor. I’m sure polyclinics aren’t any faster than GPs. Also, they may also have a b-test-by appointment only policy. Won’t know, as have never been to a p-clinic.

    Best to keep old arrangement lah, or have fewer blood tests, esp when most tests capture the state of the patient at time of taking only…and the assumption is a) patient won’t change so rapidly ./. tests n appointments n b)to see if there’s any dramatic change from baseline…

    Fat lot of good for any sudden n galloping illness!

  3. This is what happens when bureaucrats/managers start interfering in the running of clinical work. Even the hospitals here don’t need appointment loh, altho taking a queue number does exist in some hospitals.

  4. Hi Areya. Nice to hear fm u. N a belated happy CNY! Oh, we need to take a queue number too, even when there’s no appointment. But now, with appointment needed, those like us who appear without appointments, take 2 queue numbers: one to register n the other to do the blood test…. more paper n people shuffling. Sigh!

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