Robots to be part of new normal


Technology to the rescue: The robots can alert the hospitals’ control centres if reinforcement is needed at certain sites with high human traffic. — The Straits Times/ANN

WHEN you visit the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital 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 Ng Teng Fong General Hospital from October, and it will also be in action at the Alexandra Hospital the following month.

Around the same time, the National University Hospital (NUH) will have a roving security robot which can identify suspicious activities such as crowding and people lurking in restricted areas, and alert security officers in the control room.

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

In a statement yesterday, 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 slice costs by at least 50% in each hospital, NUHS said.

“We are not using technology to replace our colleagues at the NUHS Group Facility Management Team, ” stressed 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 of the 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 Ng.

With the bots at the frontline patrolling and observing, security officers can focus on value-adding duties such as using video analytics to review footage that the robots send in, responding to emergencies and spreading safety awareness.

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. — The Straits Times/ANN

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