Robot tech speeds up medicine collection at Punggol Polyclinic

New polyclinic will feature automated processes and robot tech to package medication

Punggol residents will soon find a visit to the polyclinic more convenient. They will no longer have to submit their prescription chits at the pharmacy themselves, as is the practice at most polyclinics.

Instead, prescriptions will be sent electronically and directly from doctors to the pharmacy.

Robot technology will then be used to collect and package the medication, which will be distributed to patients by pharmacy staff.

The automated pharmacy is among the facilities of the new Punggol Polyclinic, which was opened officially yesterday by labour chief and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Ng Chee Meng.

The four-storey health institution began operating on Nov 24 last year, and is the 20th polyclinic.

Clinic pharmacy manager Teo Hui Ling said the automated process means medication can be dispensed to patients more quickly and accurately. It also allows the pharmacy to handle 50 per cent more prescriptions, up to 150 an hour.

It reduces the need for manpower significantly, saving 180 man-hours a month, Ms Teo added.

The system is expected to be fully operational in July.

Given Punggol's relatively young population, the polyclinic will have a special emphasis on women's and children's health, said clinic director David Ng.

Punggol has the highest proportion of children aged five and below in Singapore.

Out of the 14,000 patients at the polyclinic last month, more than 20 per cent used the women's and children's services. In light of this, the polyclinic hopes to follow up more closely with new mothers and children, said Dr Ng.

While many new mothers suffer from gestational diabetes - which brings with it an increased risk of having Type 2 diabetes in future - they often do not follow up on this with their doctors, he said.

Dr Ng said the polyclinic also hopes to follow up more closely with newborns during their first three years of life, providing childhood immunisation and follow-up care.

Other new facilities at the polyclinic include an eye clinic, which will open on July 30. For Ms Nur Ziana Abdul Rahman, having a polyclinic a 10-minute drive away from home is a boon.

"I am a new mother, learning and adapting with a four-month-old baby, so distance does play a part... it is not far from my home," said the 30-year-old staff nurse.