Finding a general practitioner in Singapore is not an easy task. This is especially true if you don't know your way around or have no idea how to start looking for one.
This guide is here to help with 13 no-fail tips to help you along with your search for the ideal doctor.
Best Tips to Find a General Practitioner (GP) in Singapore
Finding the right doctor to assess your medical condition is crucial, but it could be hard to know where to look for. If you haven't visited a GP before, it's important to do you own check to ensure your visit is worthwhile.
1. Research Your Doctor
Don’t settle for just any general practitioner (GP). It’s important to find a GP that is right for you.
To do this, do your research and look into the following:
- Reputation - A good GP should have a great reputation in the community. Ask friends and family members who they see as their GP and what they like about them.
- Experience - Find out how long the doctor has been practicing. Check whether the doctor has had experience with a similar case to yours. You can never go wrong with choosing an experienced doctor to be your GP in Singapore!
- Qualifications - Make sure your Singapore GP is qualified, registered, and accredited by Singapore Medical Council (SMC). You can also lookup the GP’s qualifications on SMC’s website, although it is not necessary as most GPs will usually display their credentials in their clinic or on their website.
- Reviews – Read online reviews of your prospective GPs. This allows you to get feedback from previous patients of that doctor!
2. Look for a Convenient Location for Ease of Access
A convenient location is crucial if you want to easily access your GP. It should be near where you live or work and consider the ease of transport to the clinic as well.
It’s also important that there is ample parking in the vicinity so you don’t have to spend time finding a spot on your way home from work or before appointments.
Accessibility for elderly or handicapped individuals is also a point to note when picking your GP.
3. Consider the Doctors’ Qualifications and Service Standards
When you're choosing a doctor, it's important to know about their qualifications and the standards by which they are held.
Check that your GP is licensed and board-certified, and that there haven't been any complaints filed against them.
It's also wise to find out how long they have been practicing, whether they have professional affiliations, and if they've been sued for malpractice. If you're unsure of anything, don't hesitate to ask them directly.
You'll also want to check out the clinic's overall service standards. Read reviews online, call the clinic during different times of day and pay attention to how long you have to wait on hold before getting through.
A better standard of service at the clinic may help you get an appointment with your preferred doctor faster, which is especially important when dealing with a medical emergency.
4. Choose a Clinic With a Good Reputation
When considering a clinic, the first thing you should do is check its standing. You can do this by reading reviews (both those on Google and elsewhere) to find out how other people felt about it.
If a clinic has complaints of unfriendly staff or long waiting times, you might want to look elsewhere.
You can also just type the name of a clinic into Google and see what comes up.
It’s not uncommon for clinics to have been featured in news articles on their work or other achievements, so keep an eye out for these.
5. Make Sure That the Clinics Are Government-Approved
To ensure that you are getting the best care available, always check to make sure that the clinics you use are government-approved.
The Singapore government strictly regulates medical clinics and hospitals in order to maintain high standards of service, so only those meeting these requirements are approved.
To see if a particular clinic is government-approved, look for the Accredited Medical Clinics logo on all their materials and look for the number "18" at the start of their clinic registration number. This will tell you that they've passed inspection and met all requirements set by the Ministry of Health.
If you're looking for clinics to administer Covid-19 vaccines, click here.
6. Think About the Language Barrier
The language barrier is a serious issue to consider.
For those who are new to Singapore, it is important that you can communicate with your doctor properly. This is especially true if you have special medical needs or conditions.
If you are not able to speak the same language as your doctor, it might prove difficult for him/her to understand and treat you properly.
Similarly, if you do not understand what the doctor tells you, it will be difficult for you to follow his/her instructions.
7. Decide Whether You Want a Male or Female Doctor
Some people are understandably more comfortable with the same sex examining them.
You should feel relaxed while being examined or treated by your GP, and also be able to speak openly and candidly with them if necessary.
If you are not comfortable with the gender of your GP, then you may want to consider looking for another one.
8. Check if They Are Open on Weekends and Public Holidays
This is probably a no-brainer, but make sure you check the clinic opening hours and make sure that there are doctors available on weekends and public holidays. While some clinics may be closed on certain public holidays, most of them would remain open during the weekends.
You might also want to check if your GP is available for house calls. It would be good to know this in advance in case you can’t make it down to the clinic, or if someone else in your family needs urgent medical care.
9. Evaluate the Services Being Offered by the Clinics
As you go through the process of selecting a general practitioner in Singapore, know what it is you are looking for. You need to weigh your options and decide what combination of services and costs works best for you.
Once you identify your medical needs, as well as your preferences and priorities, you can use that list to narrow down your choices until only the best remain.
If you are someone who has several chronic conditions that require special attention, ask yourself if there is one doctor who can handle all of them or if different specialists would better address them in a clinic setting.
If affordability is important to you, then prioritize clinics offering subsidies or discounts on certain services.
Lastly, consider whether the convenience of being able to book an appointment online matters more than having access to after-hours care when needed. If so, look into which clinics have websites that offer easy scheduling options and read reviews from other patients who have tried them out already.
10. Find Out if They Have Any In-House Specialists as Well
I strongly recommend a general practitioner that also has in-house specialists. These doctors can refer you to a specialist when you need one, or even act as your second opinion before you see a specialist.
They can save you some time and money in the long run. GP specialists will have an overall view of your health and be able to keep track of your medical records as well.
11. Good Privacy Policies Are a Must
Privacy and confidentiality are key to establishing a trustful relationship between you and your doctor.
A general practitioner who has good privacy policies in place is one that respects your personal space, whether it’s your home or body.
A GP with good privacy policies should display the following:
- No publication of your personal health information on their website without consent
- No public posting of patient testimonials on their website without consent
- No direct marketing from third-party organizations based on the information they know about you
12. Ask Around for Recommendations
A good place to start is by asking people you know, including family, friends, and colleagues. But don't stop there—also ask others in the medical field for their recommendations, your current doctor included.
Once you’ve exhausted your known-person options, hit up the big guns: if you have insurance coverage (and even if you don't), check your insurer's website for its GP directory. You should also reach out to organizations that offer recommendations, like AskDr.
If you're working in Singapore or are a nomad who has been there long enough to make friends, ask around as well—many employers have great resources available for this very thing!
13. Think About Your Budget
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you should consider your budget.
If you don't have a medical insurance plan already, then the cost of a GP visit will definitely be a deciding factor for you.
And if you do have one, it would make sense to check that the GP is on your plan's list of preferred providers. This means their fees will be covered.
You might even find that the plan covers 85% to 100% of the fees for certain medical procedures such as skin biopsies, x-rays, and blood tests (but only up to a certain amount).
Narrowing down your options to one GP is much easier said than done, but it's not impossible. Once you've identified a few potential doctors, you'll want to read up on their reviews and make sure they're in your insurance network.
If they check out in that regard, then pay them a visit and see if you have good chemistry with them. And remember: no matter how great your GP is, the best way to maintain a healthy relationship with them is by taking care of yourself.