'Smart' solutions for better patient care

The mediCAP Fall Detection System by ST Electronics is a wristband that is programmed to send out alerts to mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets, to notify caregivers or medical personnel in the event a patient has fallen.
The mediCAP Fall Detection System by ST Electronics is a wristband that is programmed to send out alerts to mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets, to notify caregivers or medical personnel in the event a patient has fallen.PHOTO: ST ELECTRONICS

Hospitals increase use of technology to give more efficient and personal service

At Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital, computer games give patients something extra to look forward to each day.

The hospital has been using handheld tablets to engage patients who are too frail to take part in group activities such as karaoke or bingo sessions.

"We have the traditional social activities, but these may not be sufficient," said hospital chief executive Ow Chee Chung.

"And there is a group that is normally not able to participate because they are bed-bound."

The hospital is one of many healthcare institutions which are increasingly turning to technology to provide better, faster care with a personal touch.

Many showcased their latest innovations at this year's HIMSS AsiaPac Digital Healthcare Week, which is being held this week at Marina Bay Sands.

They range from the tiny - a prototype wristband that is able to detect when a person has fallen - to the very large, such as the new robotic bottle-dispensing system in KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH).

"We found that falls are one of the injuries that the elderly commonly suffer," said Mr Tan Peng Soon, who is vice-president of the land business division at ST Electronics. "If we can detect them faster, we can send help early and improve (the patients') long-term chances of recovery."

He envisions hospitals distributing the wristband to patients before they are discharged, so that staff will be able to keep an eye on them at home.

Meanwhile, KKH's new robotic system means that many formerly manual tasks in its emergency pharmacy - such as picking and packing items, and keeping track of expiry dates - are now automated.

The hospital's chief pharmacist, Ms Irene Quay, said the pharmacy handles between 1,350 and 1,800 bottles of medication each day. "Our staff are happy that they can now spend more time directly addressing patients' needs," she said.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who spoke at the official opening ceremony yesterday, said that "smart health" solutions can help provide better care for Singapore's ageing population despite labour market constraints. "(These solutions) should guide people to take pre-emptive steps to keep themselves healthy or better manage their conditions," he said.

"Smart health aims to empower our people to make informed choices about their health so that they can assume a greater responsibility in managing their own health and well-being."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2015, with the headline ''Smart' solutions for better patient care'. Print Edition | Subscribe