New assistive technologies to improve patient care

New assistive technologies to improve patient care
Mr Chee Hong Tat, Minister of State (Health) viewing the TUTTI Wheelchair Intergrated Automated Bathing System demonstration by (with blue tie) Mr David Hale, Senior Associate, International Sales Departement of OG Wellness Technologies at the Centre for Healthcare Assistive Robotics Technology on Feb 19, 2016. Photo: Koh Mui Fong
Published: 6:17 PM, February 19, 2016
Updated: 2:08 AM, February 20, 2016

SINGAPORE — Patients here could soon be aided by new assistive technologies such as automated bathing machines and autonomous droids that will interact with and monitor them.

Changi General Hospital (CGH), Peacehaven Nursing Home and St Hilda’s Community Service Centre, for example, are looking to trial eight units of an automated bath system that removes the need for extensive manual bathing and the risk of injuries from falls. The Tutti wheelchair also offers bed-bound patients and residents more privacy during bath time as only one nurse will be needed during the bath, instead of two.

The automated system was among 28 projects showcased at the Centre for Healthcare Assistive and Robotics Technology (CHART) at CGH, The two-day showcase, which started on Thursday (Feb 18), aims to raise awareness and promote the adoption of new assistive technology.

The projects from 19 companies and academic institutions also include robotic transporters, convertible wheelchair beds, autonomous robotic floor scrubbers and cleaners, as well as various rehabilitative gadgets such as the wearable Raphel smart glove and a leg rehabilitation robot for physiotherapy.

CHART, which opened late July last year, has been working with academia, industry and research institutions to develop healthcare solutions leveraging on robotics and assistive technologies in the areas of patient care, smart ward, rehabilitation as well as logistics and operations.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) is supporting healthcare and aged care sectors in the deployment of such technologies for sustainable healthcare solutions, through a S$130 million healthcare productivity fund, which was set up by the Ministry of Health and National Productivity Fund in 2012.

“We have to bring in ideas and solutions from other sectors, outside of healthcare. And bring them into the healthcare sector, combine them with our medical knowledge and procedures, and see how we can innovate and come out with a good solution,” said Minister of State (Health) Chee Hong Tat during a visit to the Healthcare Productivity Showcase on Friday.

“Improving productivity is a very important priority for the healthcare sector ... (we want) to have better patient outcomes, a better work environment for our healthcare workers, and also a better healthcare system that is more sustainable, as our population ages,” said Mr Chee.

CHART director Selina Seah reiterated on the need to adopt such assistive technologies quickly, in order to meet increasing demand for healthcare with an even more scarce workforce.

Pointing to ageing patients and an ageing workforce, she noted that “if we do not take the chance now for transformation and improve productivity using enabling technologies, then we will be in a greater need for more nurses in the next 10 to 20 years, which we will not get”.

Correction: This report has been amended to correctly reflect the name of St Hilda’s Community Service Centre. An earlier report said the centre, together with Changi General Hospital and Peacehaven Nursing Home were looking to buy eight units of an automated bath system. This is incorrect. They are looking to trial the system. The earlier report also said CHART was established with part of a S$130 million healthcare productivity fund set up by the Ministry of Health and National Productivity Fund in 2012. This is incorrect. The funds were used in the development and deployment of productivity projects. We are sorry for the errors.