ART kit vending machines make a difference at S'pore hospitals, firms

Beep Technologies CEO Kristoffer Jacek Soh Zhi Wei demonstrating the use of the ART vending machines at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital on Sept 23, 2021. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - Twenty vending machines which dispense antigen rapid test (ART) kits have been installed at private hospitals and companies islandwide, The Straits Times has learnt.

Fintech start-up Beep Technologies is working with IHH Healthcare Singapore's hospitals, including Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, to install those machines there.

Each hospital has one to two machines.

The machines, which can stock up to 480 kits each, enable staff to undergo rostered routine testing conveniently.

IHH Healthcare Singapore said this enables it to reduce manpower deployed at each Covid-19 testing station from nine to three workers, reducing the pressure on healthcare workers.

Dr Noel Yeo, chief operating officer of IHH Healthcare Singapore, said: "This very significant reduction allows us to redirect precious healthcare resources - like nurses and hospital operations staff - to other parts of the hospital, where they can perform more specialised tasks."

In recent weeks, hospitals have experienced a surge in patients rushing to the accident and emergency department with mild respiratory infection symptoms.

They have also struggled to expand capacity with Singapore reporting record-high Covid-19 cases in the thousands this past week.

To dispense the free ART kits, employees can tap their staff passes against the scanner located on the ART vending machine, like how members of the public who receive a health risk warning scan their NRIC or FIN.

The machine will be able to verify the identity of an employee as it is possible for each company's human resources team to upload staff pass data into Beep's centralised cloud platform.

Beep said the machines have also been installed at the National University Hospital (NUH), Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Alexandra Hospital.

Since last Friday, visitors must produce a valid negative ART or PCR test result obtained within the last 24 hours of each visit.

The two vending machines at NUH will dispense ART kits so that unvaccinated visitors can be tested under the supervision of NUH staff. Meanwhile, vaccinated visitors can obtain those kits for free at the hospital's visitor management service counters.

Beep's chief executive, Mr Kristoffer Jacek Soh, said: "We have received strong interest from over 10 multinational companies and semiconductor factories to deploy such solutions or upgrade their existing machines on-site to support ART kit dispensing.

"Our Internet of Things platform helps our clients reduce unnecessary physical contact during the testing process and free up manpower formerly used to perform administrative tasks."

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