WhiteCoat is a Singaporean company that aims to bring your doctor’s appointment to you, wherever you are. First conceptualised in 2016, WhiteCoat has since obtained MOH licensing and support, along with sizeable financial backing from investors of all backgrounds.
The company provides a full suite of TeleHealth services, accessible via WhiteCoat mobile application available for iOS and Android devices. It aims to imbue the healthcare sector with much needed efficiency – with hours upon hours of unproductive time racked up in the waiting room collecting queue numbers.
The first (and probably only) TeleHealth service in Singapore operating under a Staff Model (where they have a full team of in-house doctors, a suite of medical equipment and inventory of medication), WhiteCoat’s Henderson office functions as both in-person consultation clinic and digital hub for video-conference consultation.
Most other TeleHealth services operate with a Portal Model, which means they offer the services of non-staff medical personnel, often times doctors who run their own clinics. This means it can get difficult to standardise protocols and prescriptions at times.
Using the app: simple and seamless
Within the app, users looking for a doctors’ consultation can view and select staff doctors that are currently on duty, and with an average total consultation time (inclusive of waiting times) under 12 minutes, they can complete diagnoses and prescriptions without having to leave their houses (or beds!).
Doctor-patient interaction occurs via video conference, not unlike Skype or Hangouts. Diagnosis is as such restricted to what the doctor can see, or what the patient can tell. WhiteCoat Global Chairman Dr Yii Hee Seng maintains that almost all smartphones provide adequate resolution for confident diagnosis.
However, should the doctors be unable to confidently diagnose illnesses during the video conference due to the physical restrictions, no consultation fee will be charged. The patient would then be able to schedule an appointment at or walk in to WhiteCoat’s physical clinic, or receive a referal to a specialist, or the A&E department at a hospital should it be an emergency.
Upon completion of consultation, doctors brief patients on the prescriptions available in order to check yet again to ensure medicines are safely and effectively administered in the case of allergies or sensitivities. Patients can then view a fully-transparent cost breakdown for the different components of treatment and even select medications that they require. Their prescriptions can then be delivered to a specified address in a stipulated time frame within hours.
Consultation during business hours from 8AM to 8PM daily will cost a flat fee of S$25. Medications and delivery costs will be made transparent and fully optional on part of the patient.
Who is it for?
Not limited to minor consultations, WhiteCoat also focusses on chronic disease management and post-surgery care. With rising rates of chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension, WhiteCoat enables greater patient compliance by pushing through in-app alerts for medication, treatment, and rehabilitation reminders.
Presently, the platform sees the highest usage from individuals from the 18-45 bracket, which could reasonably be attributed to sufficient technological savviness and desire for convenience and immediacy of service.
While not seeing patients in person can prove to be a very real limitation, WhiteCoat insists on the effectiveness of TeleMedicine. Regular, routine tests are beneficial in picking up signs of health issues, and also provide a wealth of information for doctors to base medical decisions off.
Frequent travellers will also benefit from having full medical records at their disposal – a tremendous safeguard in the case of serious illnesses without access to full, detailed medical records.
With a team of 15 developers, TeleHealth is still constantly analysing data on client usage to optimise user experience. Founder Bryan Koh shares that the company had made drastic initial steps in streamlining the user experince for simplicity and expediency – after all, we wouldn’t want to fill in lengthy forms while struck with a debilitating fever or doubled over in pain.
Data safety and the future of health technology
Despite the unrelenting advances in technology, there’s plenty to be wary about – data breaches are severe and frequent, tech startups come and go with vicious regularity, often disappearing with customer deposits and focussing on quantity over quality.
With data stored on AWS cloud services, patient confidentiality is at the forefront of concerns while measures ensuring the effectiveness of patient data are in place. Staff are only able to see the information that pertains to their role, and individuals can access and update information freely – by simply uploading scans of lab reports and other medical documentation.
A trend in increasing demand for health services has seen a decisive rise in healthcare costs, and longer waiting times even for emergency services in both private and public healthcare sectors. WhiteCoat believes that effective implementation of technology can lead to better allocation of resources, reducing wait times and costs drastically. Average in-person consultation comes at a cost of US$125, while TeleHealth reduces it drastically US$40.
This means aggregate cost savings in terms of total patient costs, without including time savings, and potential savings from preventive treatment enabled with more convenient access to diagnoses.
With full-time, fully-trained medical professionals on board, WhiteCoat leads the pack with full clinic licences, liabilities and audits owed to the Ministry of Health, Singapore. This means that diagnoses, quality of care and patient outcomes are all on par with – or, WhiteCoat emphasises, a cut above – tradition brick-and-mortar clinics. This is due to more stringent, more regular audits and a wider customer base necessitating a larger inventory of drugs.