SINGAPORE, 26 October 2022 – Sengkang General Hospital (SKH) and Cadi Scientific, a Singapore-based healthcare technology company, today announced a collaboration to develop smart facilities at SKH through the integration of systems, processes, technologies and people to enhance its management and operation of its healthcare services, and improve patient experience.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two organisations establishes three key areas that will be further conceptualised and designed as part of SKH’s ‘smart’ facilities: operating theatres, emergency department (ED), and wards.
“SKH is one of the first few hospitals to use RTLS extensively for asset tracking and contact tracing even before the COVID-19 pandemic. As we look into the future needs of the hospital, the combination of the internet of things (IoT) and Real-Time Locating System (RTLS) have become the backbone of our hospital operations. With this collaboration, we will look at further ways to enhance the use of RTLS in more areas beyond asset tracking and contact tracing. We have found that this combination of technology can be adopted for process optimization, helping staff to spend more quality time in interacting with patients and their families,” said Prof Teo Eng Kiong, Chief Executive Officer, Sengkang General Hospital.
“We are very excited to collaborate with SKH to further expand the use of RTLS to optimize healthcare workflows and enhance patient care. While healthcare professionals dedicate themselves to taking care of patients, we assist hospitals in making workflow processes smoother and more efficient so that they can have more time with patients. We are very happy to be part of SKH’s journey in using technology to enhance patient care, and we look forward to unlocking the huge potential of RTLS together with SKH,” said Dr Goh Zenton, Chief Executive Officer, Cadi Scientific.
Optimising Operating Theatre
The operating theatre is a resource-intensive area. Optimizing its resources and improving cost-effectiveness while maintaining a high quality of care is critical in hospital management. Existing systems and software can also be enhanced to improve both the patients’ and visitors’ experience.
- Digital dashboard: Families of patients undergoing surgery can track their loved one’s progress (“surgery in progress”, “in recovery” or “in ward”) through a dashboard displayed on TV screens in the waiting room. This has been proven helpful to both patient families and staff, not only in the Emergency Department but also in other critical areas such as the operating theatre where updates are important to families. With the Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) tags worn by patients updating the dashboard system in real-time, healthcare workers no longer need to update the patient’s status in the system manually. The real-time information eases anxiety for the patient’s family. It eliminates the need for families to request a verbal update and allows staff to focus on patient care, thus promoting efficiency.
- Asset tracking: The RTLS acts as a substitute for traditional equipment inventory management systems. Close to 1,000 pieces of equipment within the operating theatre have been tagged with RTLS tags, allowing better visibility of the equipment status and most importantly, in real time, its location. This has reduced two to three hours of equipment search during routine maintenance to five minutes, and the physical equipment verification by two to three hours. Furthermore, a list of common equipment used during surgeries and its costs can be linked to the operating theatre management system surgical case data. It reduces the time nurses spent mapping assets usage to each surgery by 83%, from an average of 30 minutes to less than 5 minutes. This equates to time savings of 400 hours as nurses are required to cost about 960 surgical procedures yearly while helping to improve the accuracy of equipment usage.
As we look into the future and beyond, these findings will further aid in the purchase decision of the right equipment at the right time, thus reducing equipment inventory and holding cost while improving the utilization of equipment.
Smart Emergency Department
The adoption of RLTS currently has great importance in the efficiency of the Emergency Department where laboratory test results, medications, availability of equipment, and deployment of manpower are often pivotal to critical care.
- RTLS Patient Tracking Dashboard: It facilitates the timely sharing of critical lab results and medication delivery. Lab staff and pharmacists can determine the patient’s location by referring to the dashboard, reducing the reliance on nurses to update the patient’s location manually or having to physically look for patients. In this way, they can call the nearest nursing station to report on the results or send the medications. This ensures timely access to medications, and facilitates faster clinical decisions and appropriate treatments. This helps to improve patient outcomes and satisfaction as well as operational efficiency in the Emergency Department.
- RTLS Patient Location History Report: It provides detailed touch points of patients and staff and the duration spent at each point. This is useful when tracking individuals who came in close contact with those who had infectious diseases such as COVID-19, chicken pox and tuberculosis. Previously, it involved manually checking hospital and patient records, and liaising with various departments, which could take a few hours to a day. The process has now been shortened to 10 to 20 minutes.
- RTLS Heatmap: Manpower is key in running an Emergency Department. The heatmap shows the patient load within each zone, with a breakdown by time interval and day of the week. This allows the hospital team to understand the patient arrival patterns, which aids in the planning of manpower deployment.
- Asset tracking: Equipment such as defibrillators and ventilators, and mobile assets such as wheelchairs, patient transfer trolleys, and infusion and syringe pumps are tagged with RFID. Its quantity is monitored through RTLS and replenished when low, and can be deployed to critical clinical areas based on the quantity limits. This helps to reduce the stress on nurses in ensuring there is sufficient equipment and the ability to locate them in an emergency.
As we look into the future, there are plans to enhance the RTLS report to track the patient’s last contact with a staff. Some patients are in the Emergency Department for an extended period, and many of them have non-clinical needs (needing a drink, an extra blanket, or help with their mobile phone), especially elderly patients or those who are bedbound. Hence, the system will prompt staff to check on patients who had no interaction with a staff for a prolonged period and render any assistance if necessary, or to update their next of kin.
From the patient coming to the ward in a wheelchair and being transferred to the bed that is fitted with bed linens, to staff being reminded to adhere to hand hygiene protocols, and tags worn by doctors and nurses that facilitate contact tracing, each step involves the use of the RTLS.
- RTLS Hand Hygiene Monitoring System: Practising good hand hygiene is a cornerstone of infection prevention and control in the hospital. The RTLS hand hygiene monitoring system placed in the wards monitors and records when staff clean their hands and monitor their adherence to hand hygiene protocols. The system improves and sustains the compliance and culture of practicing hand hygiene, and improves patient safety as it reduces hospital infections.
As we look into the future, by leveraging an enhanced RTLS system and the use of robots, a location tracking technology will be developed to deploy robots to the right patient or staff at the right location. Akin to a Global Positioning System (GPS), nurses can request these robots to retrieve and deliver supplies, medicine, and linens and bring these to the patient’s bedside at a push of a button. These robots offer support to the nurses, taking away basic tasks that are simple yet time-consuming and repetitive so that they can focus on taking care of their patients. In short, it helps save nurses hours of time and thousands of steps, and improves efficiency.
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Sengkang General Hospital
Lim Soh Min
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