SINGAPORE, Sep 24, 2020, ST. As you walk through the doors of Ng Teng Fong General Hospital next month, robots may scan your SafeEntry check-in and record your temperature, The Straits Times reported.
The security and concierge robots will also detect visitors and patients who are not wearing masks or following social distancing rules, and deny these non-compliant visitors entry.
Such robots will be deployed at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Jurong Community Hospital from October. They will also be in action at Alexandra Hospital and the National University Hospital from November.
The four hospitals are part of the public healthcare cluster under the National University Health System (NUHS).
In a statement on Thursday (Sept 24), NUHS said robots, drones, and touch-free technologies will become the new normal.
The shift to tech-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.
The robots will be deployed at critical locations within the hospitals that need enhanced surveillance or restricted access.
NUHS said that with the bots at the front line, some security officers can be redeployed to monitor visitors and patients from a distance, or respond to emergencies.
They can also focus on other duties such as analysing footage in the security control rooms.
These robots can alert the hospitals’ control centres if reinforcement is needed at certain sites with high human traffic.
As for drones, they are already being used to scan the buildings’ exterior, to look out for hazards and areas that need maintenance work, such as cracks and water leakages.
NUHS is the first organisation within the local healthcare scene to use drones to inspect hospitals.
Equipped with high-resolution cameras, the drones can capture videos and images of hard-to-reach areas such as roof gutters, and detect leaf blockages at drains and water ponding at rooftops, a potential breeding ground for Aedes mosquitoes.
The drones transmit live footage of areas that need repair work to the operator on the ground.
NUHS said that with the drones, a job that took workers days to inspect manually can now be done in a few hours.
Previously, gondolas – manned and moved by workers – were used to inspect the building’s facades.
Workers were also exposed to danger when scaling ladders and by walking on ledges and weak roofs.
To prevent the transmission of bacteria and viruses, all four hospitals will install touch-free buttons in lifts that patients and visitors frequently use, by next year.
To pilot this, some lifts at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital’s Tower B have been installed with touch-free buttons.
The hospitals have also recently adopted Internet of Things sensors, as flood and fire preventive measures.
These sensors are used to monitor water and wastewater levels at certain locations in and around the hospitals, while thermal sensors track humidity to prevent damage from the overheating of computers, for example.
“(The NUHS Group Facility Management Team) is raising the capabilities of our people and partners to bring about operational efficiencies with zero downtime, cost effectiveness, energy optimisation and sustainability,” said Mr Ng Kian Swan, the chief operating officer of NUHS.
“We also aim to tap artificial intelligence to enhance the effectiveness of building facade inspection and drive automation,” he added.