BY NEXT year, residents in Ren Ci's newest nursing home could be getting their medication from a "smart" trolley that matches them to the drugs they are supposed to take.
Staff will only have to scan a resident's wristband with a mobile device. This unlocks the correct drawer, preventing medication mix-ups.
The trolley will enhance productivity, said Ms Regina Ng of Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP), which built the prototype.
It is sometimes a hassle for staff to track down individual patients, especially when the latter are in large groups, she added.
"Medication-feeding is a very time-consuming process," said the senior manager of NP's mechanical engineering division. "Very often, you need to feed the patients when they are in activity centres, and locating them can be a challenge."
The trolley will go on trial next year in Ren Ci Hospital's Bukit Gombak nursing home, which is slated to open in January.
Ren Ci and NP signed a five-year deal yesterday for more health-care innovations.
The hospital's chief executive, Ms Loh Shu Ching, said the tie-up is timely, as health-care services become more sought after even though manpower growth in the sector remains limited.
"It is imperative that we start looking at innovations and technology," she said. "In this way, we can become more productive and yet... maintain the patients' safety as well."
Another prototype gadget in the works is a toilet sensor which triggers an alert when a patient about to stand up is at risk of falling.
This means caregivers no longer need to be on constant alert, said NP lecturer Edwin Ho.
"In the past, they always had to stay outside the toilet, waiting," he said. "As for the patients, I believe they will feel that they have more privacy."