Singapore agencies launch online COVID-19 Symptom Checker

People wearing masks seen outside the Woodlands Checkpoint on 17 March 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
People wearing masks seen outside the Woodlands Checkpoint on 17 March 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — An online COVID-19 Symptom Checker has been launched to help members of the public decide on their care options should they show signs of infection.

The platform was developed by clinicians and computers scientists from the National University Health System (NUHS), the National Centre of Infectious Diseases (NCID) and the Ministry of Health’s Office for Healthcare Transformation (MOHT), said the three bodies in a joint statement on Friday (3 April).

“The checker helps people with symptoms by suggesting preferred options for care based on their age, recent travel history, people they may have been exposed to, and most importantly, the symptoms they might be having,” said the statement.

It added that the site does not collect “personally identifiable data” and offers users immediate suggestions on “possible next steps, be it continuing to monitor their symptoms or seeking medical attention at the appropriate healthcare setting”.

“This triage tool helps people cut through the deluge of information, better understand the significance of the symptoms they are experiencing and get clear guidance about what steps they could take to seek care, and when,” said Professor Robert Morris, MOHT’s chief technology strategist.

A screengrab from the new COVID-19 Symptom Checker platform.
A screengrab from the new COVID-19 Symptom Checker platform.

24 per cent of patients had been doctor-hopping

The statement noted that the impetus for developing the self-checking platform stemmed from the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) data showing that 24 per cent of COVID-19 positive patients here had been doctor-hopping.

Recognising that patients often wonder when to see a doctor and where to go, the team behind the platform sought to address this issue.

“The aim of the checker is to empower people and their families with the right information, support and resources to make an informed personal decision, act at the right time, and not have to make a dash to the emergency department,” said NCID associate consultant Dr Glorijoy Tan.

Going forward, there are plans to expand the scope of the self-checking platform to include pre-registration for consultations at general practitioner clinics or public health preparedness clinics; access to telemedicine providers; information on emergency department waiting times; as well as a heat map on COVID-19 infection clusters.

The statement also noted, however, that the Symptom Checker is “an informational resource and does not replace instructions from healthcare providers or guidance from local health authorities”.

The checker is available across three platforms:

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