A Ngee Ann Polytechnic student demonstrating the use of the smart medication trolley. (Photo credits to NP)
Ren Ci Hospital and Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) have signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to undertake research and development of rehabilitative and assistive systems to improve patient care in both hospitals and homes.
This collaboration leverages on the expertise of Ren Ci's team of healthcare professionals and Ngee Ann Polytechnic's strength in engineering to innovate devices for the healthcare sector. According to a media statement, Ren Ci Hospital will also work with students and staff from the Mechanical Engineering Division to develop innovative solutions to meet patients' and operational needs.
Loh Shu Ching, Chief Executive Officer of Ren Ci Hospital, said: "We hope to offer our healthcare expertise and tap on Ngee Ann Polytechnic's design and technical capabilities to drive medical innovations which have the potential to cut down on administrative work and non-value added processes. Implementing these innovations at our facilities lead to efficiency gains, cost savings and allow our care staff to provide higher quality of care and services."
Among the projects that NP has developed for Ren Ci is a smart medication trolley to identify and match patients with the correct medication. Developed by students from the Automation & Mechatronic Systems course, the trolley system consists of magnetically locked drawers which are labeled with the patients' names. Each drawer is filled with the medication prescribed for the respective patient.
To identify the patient, a Bluetooth-enabled mobile device is used to read the Near Field Communication (NFC) tag embedded in the patient's wrist band. Only then will the matching drawer be unlocked. Besides reducing the possibility of errors, staff productivity is also improved since less time is spent in verifying the patient's identity, particularly in a large activity room with many patients. The trolley is also equipped with a motorised wheel to enhance its mobility.
Another joint project is a fall prevention toilet sensor system. Designed for patients with impaired mobility, the system gives them the privacy of being alone in the toilets without the presence of nurses or other caregivers. If the patients attempt to get up on their own, an alarm will automatically be triggered so that the nurses or caregivers can rush in to assist. The system is also "splash-proof" to enhance its robustness in wet toilet conditions.
The prototypes have been installed in four toilets at the hospital for a trial run from May to June 2014. With the successful proof-of-concept, the sensor's mounting is now being modified before the system is commissioned in Ren Ci Community Hospital. The smart medication trolley will undergo trial testing at Ren Ci Nursing Home next year.
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