The Singapore Cancer Society (SCS) has launched three digital platforms — SCS AI Chatbot, SCS FIT Portal and SCS Telesupport Portal — as part of efforts to meet the rising demand for quick and safe assistance on cancer related matters.
While the AI Chatbot and FIT Portal addresses the need for timely and accurate information, and screening services for cancer, the Telesupport Portal provides a platform for the cancer community to get the support needed even in times of isolation.
The need for social distancing amidst the COVID-19 situation, has significantly impacted cancer screening, outreach, and overall support for cancer patients in the community. These platforms ensure that SCS continues to meet the needs of the cancer community by conducting various activities in a convenient and safe way.
The Society provides a comprehensive range of assistance – SCS Financial Assistance, SCS Assistance for Children and Youth, SCS Cancer Rehabilitation Services, Counselling Services, SCS Support Groups, SCS Patient Ambassador Programme and SCS Enrichment Programmes. Information on these programmes and services provide cancer patients with avenues for assistance at every stage of treatment: from pre-treatment, when they are first diagnosed with cancer, to post-treatment and beyond.
“With rising cancer incidence and more cancer survivors in Singapore, it is important now more than ever for SCS to step up and leverage on technology, to bridge the gap to the community so no one gets left behind,” said Albert Ching, CEO of SCS.
“SCS is committed to ensuring that the cancer community and the public continue to receive the much-needed help to cope better, in their fight against cancer even during a pandemic,” said Ching.
In line with one of SCS’ strategic thrust to reduce cancer incidence though Greater Education and Awareness, the SCS AI Chatbot will be available to provide public, cancer patients and their families with greater access and ease to educational information and assistance on cancer.
The chatbot is developed by OneConnect Financial Technology at no cost to SCS as part of its CSR efforts. With National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) supporting as Knowledge Partner, the SCS AI Chatbot uses OneConnect’s Artificial Intelligence technologies and is further trained with data and expertise of NCCS and historical call records of SCS.
Using the SCS AI Chatbot, patients and caregivers can have their questions answered instantaneously and access cancer information, bypassing the need to be placed on hold over the phone when they dial into the call centres or to wait for an appointment.
The AI Chatbot will also be able to answer frequently asked questions, determine if a user is eligible for free SCS services such as mammogram, PAP test, HPV test, and FIT kit collection; and facilitate the booking of appointments at the SCS Clinic @ Bishan. This will provide a seamless experience for all users and empower them to take greater control of their health situation.
Colorectal cancer is the top cancer diagnosed in Singapore. The risk of developing this cancer increases from age 50. Preliminary screening tests such as the Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) kit can detect traces of blood in the stool that is invisible to the naked eye.
When signs of pre-cancer or cancer growths are detected in the early stages, the chances of recovery and survival are much higher for an individual. Therefore, SCS places great emphasis on intensifying cancer prevention efforts and reducing cancer incidence through such screening services.
The FIT kit has traditionally been available for pick up at the SCS main office (Realty Centre) and various Guardian, Watsons and Eu Yan Sang stores. To ‘Serve more and Serve better’, SCS has been progressively working on an online portal to make screening accessible to the community at large.
In the midst of the COVID-19 restrictions and safety measures, SCS has been ramping up this initiative to ensure that those in the vulnerable age group get screened even during the pandemic.
Hosted on the SCS website, the FIT Portal allows those above 50 to register for a test kit that will be mailed to them within 14 working days. Participants will no longer be restricted to store operating or office hours to collect the FIT kit, making preliminary cancer screening more accessible and convenient. This is in line with SCS’ strategic thrust to Increase Cancer Survivorship by intensifying screening uptake and detecting cancer early.
Nora Lim, who collected her FIT Kit at one of the stores recently, looks forward to using the portal.
“In the past, I had to physically make my way down to collect the Kit,” the 65-year-old said. “It can be quite inconvenient as I grow older because I have mobility issues and it’s tiring to travel. With this portal, I can do this anytime without leaving the house, so it is much easier.”
In line with SCS’ strategic thrust to improve quality of lives by providing holistic support to patients, SCS Telesupport Portal caters to cancer patients to access and seek assistance at their own convenience from anywhere in Singapore.
This service aims to provide significant impact, especially to those who are newly diagnosed seeking timely insights and accessible information on the range of SCS Assistance Schemes available. A SCS staff will be readily available (during operating hours) to provide information on SCS’ services and programmes, enhancing the process flow and increase positive experience for both cancer patients and their families.
“This easy to use telesupport service provides the face-to-face engagement without us having to make an appointment and travel to meet someone or to wait on a call for such assistance,” ,” said 57-years-old Tan Hui Lee. “This way we can easily access the help needed and get required information needed from a SCS staff at one time. This service has enabled SCS staff to better reach out to elderly users like myself who are in need of information about cancer care and services available for the cancer community,”
Greater access to integrated cancer care
SCS will be co-locating to the new NCCS building to provide a seamless experience for cancer patients and families to access the various SCS cancer support teams and all services under one roof.
Taking public education further digitally, SCS and NCCS will be developing state of the art interactive learning hub to engage the public, patients, and caregivers to learn more about cancer using interactive multimedia platforms.