| Hakim Hayat |
QUEUE and waiting time to see dentists in the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) Primary Oral Care Services has been significantly reduced since the introduction of the dental appointment system late last year, giving more convenience to patients and enhancing service delivery, MoH officials shared in a press conference yesterday.
Since late last year, the appointment system, which allocates specific time slots for patients has already been rolled out to most of MoH’s 13 peripheral dental clinics nationwide and the ministry is aiming to have all its dental clinics use the system by November this year, Dr Malissa binti Abdullah Sikun, Medical Superintendent, Dental Services told media representatives at the press conference at the National Dental Centre in Jalan Airport Lama yesterday.
Dr Poh Wan Wen @ Patricia, Head of Primary Oral Care, Dental Services explained that the implementation of the system is in line with the MoH’s goals to improve its service delivery in health centres.
She said that previously waiting time can range from an hour to three hours but with the appointment system, patients can save and plan their time, giving them more convenience, adding that the system also allows for enhanced quality of care as dental professionals are able to provide more focussed and comprehensive services.
“Most dental procedures require predictable amount of time.. multiple instruments and materials are required for the vast number of procedures we provide, hence the appointment system helps us plan operational set up and sterilisation procedures in an efficient and timely manner,” she explained.
She added that longer appointments allow for multiple procedures per visit, which promotes continuity of care and speeds up the process of treatment, enhancing service delivery and quality.
The appointment system applies to all patients requiring dental treatment and to book their slots, patients are urged to contact via telephone or visit their nearest MoH dental clinics.
The public can call Darussalam line 123 to find out the phone numbers for their nearest MoH dental clinic.
Patients will usually be triaged or screened over the phone or in person to determine the type of care they need – either emergency or routine care.
Those with dental emergencies will be attended on the same day and accepted as a walk-in patient while those who require non-urgent routine care will be provided with the earliest appointment slot available.
Dr Wen said some examples of dental emergencies include facial swelling, very recent dental trauma, uncontrolled bleeding after recent extraction and severe toothache that cannot be relieved by painkillers.
Patients are also able to book multiple appointment slots at one time, depending on their treatment needs as advised by dental professionals, according to Dr Wen.
Asked on how the system has helped enhance their service delivery, Dr Malissa shared that it has given more convenience to their patients as they can now plan their time and it has also helped improve their focus on care for each patient.
She sought public’s patience and understanding as they put this new system into practice. “As this appointment system is still in its early stage, we are well aware of its limitations and the obstacles that may arise along the way,” she said, assuring that they are working closely with their staff to improve the system.
Both officials reiterated that “Health is everyone’s business and this also includes dental health. We encourage everyone to take an active role in maintaining good oral health. Therefore, clients may visit their dental clinics regularly as advised by the dental professional. Practise good home oral care – brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily and reduce the intake of sugary food and drinks.”