5 Things to Consider Before Visiting a Healthcare Specialist in Singapore 2023

The maze that is Healthcare

The Singapore healthcare system is impressive in many ways — from a comprehensive financial system to accessible hospitals and local neighbourhood GPs within walking distance of your home. In fact, in 2020, it ranked 1st in the world for the most efficient healthcare, according to Bloomberg’s Health-Efficiency Index. 

But what do you do when it’s not just the flu? With the numerous options available, navigating the healthcare system can also be quite daunting and confusing, especially if you’re not familiar with it. 

Some people don’t like the wait (or do not have the luxury of time to do so) and are often passed around from one healthcare provider to the next until you find the right doctor for your condition. The comprehensive financial system may also be overwhelming, with the need to understand your insurance plans and the policies and entitlements that come with them. 

  1. Is it the right doctor?

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need a GP referral to see a specialist. You can contact the specialist clinic directly to make an appointment. 

If you are already aware of your symptoms and have a general idea of what you suffer from, you could cut your time spent by visiting a specialist right away. For example, urinary issues could entail a visit to a urologist. 

Knowing your doctor’s background is essential. Specialist doctors have sub-specialties and certain treatments and techniques they are known for. These can generally be found on their clinic websites. 

An alternative option would be to visit your GP for an initial diagnosis, in which they may refer you to a specialist after. The trade-off, however, is that it may take you more consultations and hence, a longer wait before you get the necessary treatment or procedure. This may not be the best option if your condition is time-sensitive or if you’re experiencing symptoms that you would want immediately treated.

  1. Are you insured?

Healthcare in Singapore is expensive, especially for expatriates. This makes it paramount to take your insurance coverage into consideration. You may have restrictions on which medical providers you can visit and if certain treatments are insurance claimable. 

Some clinics have this information available online, but it would be best to give them a call and enquire because this information may not always be up-to-date. 

If you reside overseas, note that many insurance companies only partially cover emergency medical flights. Remember to read the fine details of your insurance policies carefully. 

  1. Visa applications

If you live outside of Singapore and would like to seek treatment within the country, you may need to make the appropriate visa application arrangements. 

You can apply via the Singapore embassy in your respective countries. Generally, you’ll have to make sure you have:

It’s important to note that these applications may take time, depending on your country of residence. It may take as long as 6 weeks, so plan early! 

Pro-tip: If you’ve already found the specialist you’d like to visit in Singapore, you may request a supporting letter to aid in your application.

  1. Getting around

Clinic location matters, especially if you will have to see the doctor often for check-ups and long-term care. Look into the location of the clinic, how accessible it is and how long it will take to travel to and fro appointments.

On that note, if you live outside Singapore, consider the necessary transport arrangements you would need to make. For more serious cases and disabilities, you may require medical evacuation services. 

  1. Post-care support

If you plan to undergo surgery or a procedure, remember to make the necessary arrangements. Have a trusted friend or family member assume the role of primary caregiver to assist with the transition from hospital to home. 

What’s Beyond Medical Assistance?

Here at Beyond Medical Assistance (BMA), we believe in providing accessible and holistic healthcare experiences that go beyond the provision of medical services. Helmed by a healthcare management team with a combined experience of 40 years, the BMA team will hear your concerns and refer you to the appropriate specialist in the public or private sector. 

We function as a single point of contact for all your healthcare needs, such as:

Beyond Medical Assistance also has in-house healthcare ambassadors to assist with hospital admissions and to facilitate proper communication between your overseas medical provider and Singapore specialist, ensuring that you get the necessary care and attention. Getting treatment doesn’t have to be complicated. If in doubt, WhatsApp or call us at +65 6589 8111, or drop us an email at wecare@beyondmedical.com.sg for a consultation. 

#BehindTheScope with Consultant Urologist, Dr Fiona Wu

Urologists are medical doctors are specialised in conditions that affect the urinary tract (kidney, ureters, bladder, urethra, and prostate in men) in both the young and old, as well as diseases that affect the reproductive system.

In light of International Women’s Day, we’d like to feature Consultant Urologist Dr Fiona Wu, a doctor dedicated to empowering women to seek the healthcare they need and deserve. In this #BehindTheScope interview, we get up close and personal with Dr Fiona Wu, as she provides some insight into her profession and passion. 

1. Why did you decide to become a doctor?

It’s the easiest job to be able to help people in general. In my younger years, as a JC student, it was hard to make a career choice — but I ultimately chose a tough but very fulfilling job.


2. Why did you choose your specialty?

I chose to specialise in Urology because it’s such an exciting field with many innovations, and there is instant gratification when the patients get well fast.

3. What do you look forward to everyday before heading out to your clinic?

The most satisfying thing is seeing my patients get well, of course!

It’s very gratifying to be able to help patients regain continence — especially since women often consider urinary incontinence as something as “natural” as our skin sagging or bones getting weaker — but that’s not true. Many conditions causing these symptoms (like the inability to hold urine) are very treatable. You can gain control of your life again, and I enjoy helping people achieve that.

For male patients, it’s really fulfilling when they can pee well after their treatments for enlarged prostates or other voiding problems.

4. What is one common misconception the general public has about your specialty? What’s one thing you wish the public would realise about it?

There’s a common misconception that only male patients have to see a urologist and females only see gynaecologists! As a urologist, we see both genders, and we can treat both.

5. Why did you decide to set up a private healthcare centre as compared to other healthcare settings?

I chose to start Aare Urocare because I can provide treatments in a more timely, personalised and effective way. As my clinic has most of the equipment required for a diagnosis, patients are able to save time and costs after the consultation. 

6. What is the most memorable moment in your career?

One of the most memorable moments was when I spent a year in Switzerland for my fellowship. Living and working in Europe was a real eye-opener!

Due to cultural differences, the Europeans are generally more independent when they have urological conditions, and I learnt how to teach our local patients about self-care and self-motivation. Also, doing complex cases with my mentors was really stressful and challenging but very rewarding and enriching at the same time.

7. What piece of healthcare advice would you give to Singaporeans?

Being proactive and taking ownership of your health also means listening to your body well. Look out for signs and symptoms and visit your doctor to get checked if you experience any symptoms that concern you. Often, many of these conditions are treatable and outcomes are best when the problems are addressed early. 

Please take care of your health and take responsibility for it! Know your conditions and understand the treatment plans and medications!

8. What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

Can I just say sleeping? *laughs* Well, I like to exercise on days when I’m not so tired, and holidays overseas are always good for the soul. 

About Dr Fiona Wu

Dr Fiona Wu is the Medical Director & Consultant Urologist at Aare Urocare in Gleneagles Hospital, Singapore. She has been a practitioner in the field for over 15 years, and her clinical interests include female urology, neuro-urology and reconstructive urology. She believes strongly in treating urinary incontinence in holistic ways using minimally invasive methods. 

#BehindTheScope Interview with Gastroenterologist, Dr Benjamin Yip

Gastroenterologists are medical doctors who are specialised in conditions that affect the digestive system. This includes the gastrointestinal tract (oesophagus, stomach and intestines) and the biliary tract (liver, bile ducts, pancreas and gallbladder). In this #BehindTheScope interview, we get insights from Dr Benjamin Yip, who tells us more about his profession and passion.

1. Why did you decide to become a doctor?

My parents are both doctors, and they have both inspired me in their own ways. 

Also, for males doing Medicine in Singapore, it was something different - being able to experience NS and pursue our studies - which seemed like a good proposition then!

2. Why did you choose your specialty?

I have been interested in digestive medicine since Medical School, so for me, my mind was already set on becoming either a Digestive Surgeon or Gastroenterologist. I did a posting in General Surgery as a Medical Officer and, in experiencing both, I realised I preferred Gastroenterology!

3. What do you look forward to everyday before heading out to your clinic?

I look forward to solving each and every digestive problem for my patients. I especially love it if I am able to solve their problems with endoscopy, which is one of my greatest passions within the realm of Gastroenterology. 

4. What is one common misconception the general public has about your specialty? What’s one thing you wish the public would realise about it?

Many people think Gastroenterologists also do surgeries for their patients. In actual fact, we are physicians, so we don’t do surgeries. The digestive surgeries are done by Upper Gastrointestinal, Hepato-pancreato-biliary and Colorectal Surgeons. So, Gastroenterologists work very closely with these 3 groups of surgeons. 

I wish the public would realise the importance of screening for certain digestive cancers like colorectal, liver and stomach. They can present/rear their ugly head in late stages, so it is really important to go for screening when one is of a certain age and/or has certain risk factors.  

5. Why did you decide to set up a private healthcare centre as compared to other healthcare settings?

I have worked in the public healthcare sector for close to 20 years. Eventually, I’ve come to realise that I wanted to set up something where I have free rein to focus on important aspects of patient care. 

In the public sector, there are times when you are pulled away from patient care for other duties such as education, research or administration. Even the way we manage patients may be restricted in the public sector, and this is much less the case in the private sector. 

6. What is the most memorable moment in your career?

This was when I was awarded the MOH Health Manpower Development Plan Award to pursue further training in Advanced Endoscopy — a subspecialty within Gastroenterology which I am most passionate about. I spent a year in London, UK, and had one of the most fruitful and rewarding seasons in my career.

7. What piece of healthcare advice would you give to Singaporeans?

Good health is not just about good physical health. Psychological, emotional and spiritual health is just as important and are often overlooked. Take the time to enjoy the moment, whatever the circumstances, so you won’t regret it when the time has passed. 

8. What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

I like to run and do HIIT to de-stress and keep fit. I also like to read up on the latest car models and go for test drives when my schedule allows for it. Lastly, I love travelling, and I am so glad the borders are now open — hopefully, COVID-19 will soon be but a memory!

About Dr Benjamin Yip

Dr Benjamin Yip is the Medical Director & Consultant Gastroenterologist at Alpha Digestive & Liver Centre. He has been a practitioner in the field for almost 20 years, and his expertise lies in advanced endoscopy, where he performs complex endoscopic procedures, such as ERCP, EUS, deep enteroscopy Spyglass cholangioscopy and enteral dilation/stenting. 

The Complete Guide to Sinusitis Treatment in Singapore (2023)

What is sinusitis?

Sinusitis is a condition that occurs when the sinuses become inflamed and swollen. The sinuses are the cavities around your nasal passages. Inflammation to this area thus blocks drainage and causes mucus build-up in your nose.

The condition is quite common, with around 90% of adults getting the condition at least once. In Singapore, this is even more so due to the climate. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, with some cases clearing within a few days or weeks without intervention, while some other cases may last longer, requiring antibiotics and even surgery.

What are the symptoms of sinusitis?

The symptoms of sinusitis include:

Some patients also experience aching pain around the jaw and teeth, ear pain, headache, sore throat, fever, nausea, and fatigue.

What are the types and causes of sinusitis?

There are 2 types of sinusitis:

·  Acute sinusitis

·  Chronic sinusitis

The differences between these 2 types will be discussed in the next section.

There are also a few different causes, including:

What are the differences between acute sinusitis and chronic sinusitis?

The main difference between the two is the persistence of the symptoms.

Acute sinusitis is also known as acute rhinosinusitis. This condition happens when the symptoms last up to 12 weeks. As the name suggests, sinusitis develops suddenly, often along with a common cold.

Symptoms include runny and stuffy nose and facial pain that persists for 10 days or more. This kind of sinusitis often responds well to home remedies, antibiotics, decongestants, and other oral medications. A sub-type, known as recurrent acute sinusitis, refers to the condition where sinusitis symptoms come back 4 or more times in a year, with each one lasting less than 2 weeks.

On the other hand, sinusitis is classified as chronic sinusitis if the symptoms last more than 12 weeks, even with medical interventions. Note that chronic sinusitis may happen as a complication of acute sinusitis.

Also, symptoms of chronic and acute sinusitis are similar, but fever is not typically experienced by chronic sinusitis patients. For chronic sinusitis cases, oral medicines may not be able to successfully treat the condition and surgical intervention may be necessary. More details on the treatment options will be discussed in the following sections.

What complications can arise from untreated sinusitis?

Very rarely, in some cases, untreated sinusitis may cause complications such as:

Is sinusitis contagious?

This depends on the cause of the sinusitis. Bacterial and fungal sinusitis are not contagious, but viral sinusitis are! The virus may spread through:

When should I go to a doctor for sinusitis?

You should visit a doctor if:

For your visit, take note of:

Do visit the doctor immediately if you experience:

These symptoms are signs of a serious infection, and you should get it checked immediately! Your ENT specialist can run a thorough diagnosis and create a personalised treatment plan.

How is sinusitis diagnosed?

Sinusitis, especially for chronic cases, is diagnosed through a nasoendoscopic examination. This involves using a small camera that is attached to a tube that will be inserted into the nose to visually inspect the sinuses. This is a really quick procedure that can take less than 3 minutes. The procedure may be uncomfortable but is completely painless for the most part.

If an anatomical abnormality is suspected to be the cause of your condition, a CT scan might also be taken to see the severity and complexity of your condition. This is usually only for chronic or recurring cases.

On top of that, a sample of your nasal discharge may also be taken and examined to determine the exact cause of your condition. This is critical in determining the type of treatment that will be suitable for your case.

Also, if your sinusitis is suspected to have developed following an allergic reaction, your doctor may also recommend an allergy skin test. It is a very quick, painless procedure that can help pinpoint the allergen causing your inflammation and, with that, help you prevent subsequent flare-ups.

What are the treatment options for sinusitis?

For cases of acute sinusitis, the symptoms tend to clear by themselves within a few days. Some treatments that may help you manage the symptoms include:

That said, if the symptoms persist, do get a prescription from a doctor. Depending on the cause of your sinusitis, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or antifungal medications to help clear the condition. If you do get antibiotics, remember to take the whole course prescribed to you, even if the symptoms have cleared out. This is to prevent recurrent sinusitis that may be harder to treat.

If allergies are the main cause of your sinusitis, your doctor may also use immunotherapy, also known as “Allergy Shots”. This helps reduce your body’s reaction to specific allergens thus helping you manage the inflammation and other symptoms.

Surgical treatment for sinusitis

If oral medications are unable to treat the condition, a surgery called functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) may be necessary. First, your doctor will use a thin, flexible tube (endoscope) to explore the sinus passages. Then depending on your condition, your doctor will remove or shave away tissues that are causing the nasal blockage. Another method is to enlarge a narrow sinus opening.

Home remedies to alleviate sinusitis symptoms

Above medications and treatments, there are a few lifestyle changes that will help you manage the symptoms of sinusitis. This includes:

Can sinusitis be prevented?

Yes! Steps to prevent developing sinusitis include:


If you are currently experiencing some of the symptoms mentioned in this article, do visit a doctor to get your condition checked. Sinusitis is definitely treatable, especially if treated promptly. Also, take note of the tips mentioned to help relieve the symptoms! Now after reading this, just take a deep breath, have some rest, and relax.

“Chronic Sinusitis - Singapore.” HealthHub, https://www.healthhub.sg/a-z/diseases-and-conditions/226/chronic_sinusitis_ttsh. Accessed 28 December 2022.

Chumar, Alvin. “What Is Sinusitis?” HealthXchange.sg, https://www.healthxchange.sg/head-neck/ear-nose-throat/what-sinusitis. Accessed 28 December 2022.

Mok, Paul. “Sinus Singapore | Sinusitis Singapore.” My ENT Specialist, https://www.myentspecialist.sg/sinus-problems.php. Accessed 28 December 2022.

“Sinus Infection (Sinusitis): Types, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic, 4 June 2020, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17701-sinusitis. Accessed 28 December 2022.

“Sinusitis – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment.” Gleneagles Hospital, https://www.gleneagles.com.sg/specialties/medical-specialties/ear-nose-throat/sinusitis. Accessed 28 December 2022.