SINGAPORE - The lab where medical technologist Ms Chong Ai Teng works used to smell quite unpleasant.
The 37-year old tests urine samples at the National University Hospital (NUH) and had to handle large containers filled with up to 3 litres of urine.
"The urine samples in these containers are collected over a 24-hour period so the smell can be quite strong, and there used to be at least 50 of these 3 litre containers in the lab at any time," said Ms Chong.
But a small change has made a big difference.
Smaller 100ml containers, which come with an unique seal to seal off odours, are now used. The container is called the RAS Urine Transfer System and implemented by NUH in January. In the past, patients who needed 24-hour urine tests would have to collect their urine in the large 3-litre bottles and take them to the hospital. Not only were the containers heavy, they also contained much more urine than what was needed for tests. But with the RAS Urine Transfer System, patients only need to collect 100ml of urine and bring that small container back to the hospital.
In the lab, medical technologists simply have to insert a test tube into a special slot on the top of the RAS Urine Transfer System container's lid. The slot contains a vacuum operated seal that transfers the urine sample into the test tube in seconds, re-sealing itself once the test tube is removed. Medical technologists thus do not have to come into direct contact with the urine sample when carrying out tests.
The RAS Urine Transfer System is one of the top winners at this year's Healthcare Suppliers Awards.
Organised by the National Healthcare Group (NHG), NUH, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and the Agency for Integrated Care, the award seeks to recognise companies that have helped improve Singapore's healthcare system through better productivity and innovation.
RAS Pharma and Biochem, the company behind the RAS Urine Transfer System, took the first prize in the Innovation Award category.
But the local firm is not done innovating yet.
RAS Pharma and Biochem's senior manager, Mr Runway Tay, said the company is already working on improved version of the RAS Urine Transfer System. The new version, which is slated for release in 2016, will feature upgrades that will help prevent leaks.
Other top winners at this year's Healthcare Suppliers Awards include Schenker Singapore, which bagged the first prize for the Operational Excellence Award category. The company's inventory management system has improved efficiency in picking, packing and delivering medical supplies to pharmacies under the National Healthcare Group.
Taking the first prize in the Continuous Improvement Award category is ISS Facility Services, for its Ride-On Road Sweeper. The machine helps staff at the Institute of Mental Health cover an area eight times larger compared with performing manual cleaning duties on foot.
Ms Lim Yee Juan, group chief financial officer at the NHG, said besides recognising outstanding companies that supply the healthcare industry, the awards also serve as a platform where firms can showcase their innovations and exchange ideas.
Added Ms Lim, "When this happens, not only do the healthcare institutions benefit, but other suppliers may also find inspiration as well."