Singapore

NUHS harnesses technology to manage hospital facilities

As you walk through the doors of Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH) next month, a robot will scan your SafeEntry check-in and record your temperature.

The security and concierge robot will also detect visitors and patients who are not wearing masks or following social distancing rules and deny these non-compliant visitors entry.

The robot will be deployed at NTFGH from next month, and it will also be in action at Alexandra Hospital from November.

Around the same time, National University Hospital will have a roving security robot that can identify suspicious activities such as crowding and people lurking in restricted areas.

The three hospitals are part of the public healthcare cluster under the National University Health System (NUHS).

NUHS said robots, drones and touch-free technologies will become the new normal.

The shift to technology-based solutions comes as the hospitals seek to minimise labour-intensive operations and move to a more efficient, safer and productive way to manage its facilities.

This will not only save time but also slice costs by at least 50 per cent in each hospital, NUHS said.

"We are not using technology to replace our colleagues at the NUHS group facility management team," said Mr Ng Kian Swan, the chief operating officer of NUHS.

"Instead, the technologies will be used to support them in their work and give them the opportunity to reskill and upskill."

Some staff are learning on the job as they work with Internet of Things sensors, for instance, and others have been sent for courses to learn how to fly drones, added Mr Ng.

NUHS is the first healthcare organisation to use drones to inspect hospitals.

Armed with high-resolution cameras, the drones capture live footage of hard-to-reach areas such as roof gutters and detect water ponding on rooftops, a potential breeding ground for Aedes mosquitoes.

To prevent transmission of bacteria and viruses, the three hospitals will install touch-free buttons in lifts that patients and visitors frequently use by next year.

To pilot this, some lifts at NTFGH's Tower B have been installed with touch-free buttons.

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