SINGAPORE - Patients in two wards in the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) have access to something more than a call button for their needs.
They can tap on the MyCare app installed on iPads that will be placed beside their beds.
The app allows patients to view their daily care schedules, including their meals, medication or tests throughout their stay. They can also monitor their medical information such as diagnosis, vital signs, medical test results, medications, and dosage.
It also includes interactive features such as a messaging service for patients to ask nurses questions, or to request snacks, toileting assistance or other housekeeping services.
The pilot programme, announced on Tuesday (July 23) in conjunction with SingHealth's Nurses' Day Celebrations, is being piloted in the two wards comprising 51 beds at SGH.
This year's Nurses' Day theme, "The Future of Nursing", is centred on how technology, continuous training, and job redesigning would transform the way nurses provided care.
"Digital technologies can improve the way we communicate information to patients and their caregivers and empower them to be partners in their own care," said Professor Ivy Ng, group CEO of SingHealth.
However, these technologies could "never replace the personal and human touch of a nurse", said Adjunct Associate Professor Tracy Carol Ayre, group chief nurse of SingHealth. Instead, she said, they save nurses the time needed for certain routine but time-consuming processes, freeing them to do the essentials while still maintaining the human touch.
Assistant nurse clinician at SGH, Ms Tan Sheng Lian, noted that the app had improved work processes between the nurses and patients: "Now with the app, nurses can already know the patient's request on screen without needing to go to their bedside when they press the call button."
"With the MyCare app, patients are better informed about their treatment with education materials at their fingertips," Ms Tan said, referring to the information available on the app about specific medical conditions.
Concurrently with the iPad "MyCare" programme, a team of SGH nurses is piloting a wireless wearable biosensor that allows automatic and continuous monitoring of patients' vital signs such as their heart rate, respiratory rate, and skin temperature. The biosensor is palm-sized and adhesive, allowing it to be placed on the patient's chest and the data monitored in real-time.
The biosensors need only be replaced once every three days, and takes three minutes to set up. Previously, nurses would need to do checks on patients every two hours.
"Now nurses no longer need to disturb patients in their sleep to check their vital signs as they are already being monitored in real-time," Ms Tan said.
By 2021, SingHealth plans to progressively roll out the iPads and MyCare app across its hospitals which besides SGH are Changi General Hospital, KK Women's and Children's Hospital and the National Heart Centre Singapore.
Mr Quek Joo Tiang, 71, has been hospitalised at SGH for five days and used the app.
He praises it but said in Mandarin that "it would be good to have the videos and materials in languages besides English too".
"There are Chinese subtitles, but if my eyes were weaker, I wouldn't be able to use the materials," he told The Straits Times.
SingHealth says material in the other official languages is in the works for future versions of the app, together with a function to place meal orders. Following patients' feedback, future upgrades may also include entertainment such as television shows, games or newspapers.