From robot cleaners to remote physiotherapy sessions: Embracing tech in Covid-19 fight

As the Covid-19 outbreak continues to cause disruptions, organisations here have had to adapt to 'business as usual' in a pandemic world. From robot cleaners to remote physiotherapy sessions to digital management platforms, Timothy Goh looks at five types of technology that have been adopted here in the fight against the coronavirus, and what the future might look like.


Temi reduces exposure of healthcare staff to patients

A patient at SingHealth's community care facility at the Singapore Expo having a teleconsultation via Temi, a remote-controlled robot. PHOTO: SINGHEALTH

Robots have reduced the amount of time that front-line healthcare workers spend with Covid-19 patients at SingHealth's community care facility at the Singapore Expo by six times.

These workers are at relatively high risk of infection given the way community care facilities are set up, said Associate Professor Tan Hiang Khoon, medical director of SingHealth's facility at the Expo.

Unlike in hospitals, where patients are in negative pressure rooms, the Expo has no such facilities. Because round-the-clock medical support has to be provided at the facility, staff had to spend a lot of time around the infected.


Better patient care with improved teleconsultation

A doctor conducting a teleconsultation session at one of NHGP's polyclinics. PHOTO: NATIONAL HEALTHCARE GROUP POLYCLINICS

More than 200 doctors in the National Healthcare Group Polyclinics (NHGP) have been trained to check on patients via video link as the group enhanced its teleconsultation services to ensure patients continue to get the medical help they need during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Consultant and head of special projects (primary care) at NHGP David Ng said patients had been worried about going down to clinics in person due to the outbreak.

There was also a need to ensure safe distancing at the group's six polyclinics.


Coronavirus: Digital platform helped team of 5 field hundreds of queries

Salesforce's service cloud (above) helped the Singapore Global Network team consolidate queries from overseas Singaporeans. PHOTO: SALESFORCE

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the digital marketing team at the Singapore Global Network (SGN) handled fewer than a dozen questions a week, ranging from queries on its programmes and initiatives to issues related to relocating to or out of Singapore.

SGN, a division of the Economic Development Board, helps engage overseas Singaporeans and people with ties to Singapore.

When Covid-19 hit, however, the digital marketing team, which has just five members, was facing a flood of around 50 queries daily.


Coronavirus: Ella helps keep Alexandra Hospital clean

Ella, the housekeeping robot, is deployed at Alexandra Hospital to boost its cleaning regime. PHOTO: ALEXANDRA HOSPITAL

Meet the newest member of Alexandra Hospital's housekeeping staff: Ella the robot.

The made-in-Singapore robot has been deployed at the hospital since early March to boost the hospital's cleaning regimen in order to keep staff and patients safe from the coronavirus.

Cleaning at the hospital, which is part of the National University Health System, has been stepped up in the light of the Covid-19 outbreak.


Coronavirus: Robots ensure safe distancing in parks

Spot the robot patrolled Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park for two weeks last month. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

The recent circuit breaker measures saw many new visitors flocking to parks around the island - including two mechanical ones.

O-R3 and Spot the robots were deployed by the National Parks Board and national water agency PUB to help with safe distancing efforts.

Two O-R3 mini cars made their rounds at Bedok and Pandan reservoirs, broadcasting reminders to the public to refrain from gathering and loitering. Equipped with a 360-degree camera and sensors, O-R3 is a robotic security car that can record video footage and broadcast messages.


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