Three autonomous mobile robots for way finding, medication and blanket delivery aim to enhance productivity and focus on patient care.
At Changi General Hospital (CGH), three of the newest members of its care team moves seamlessly in and around the Emergency Department (ED). In innovating healthcare for tomorrow, a team of ED nurses, pharmacists, operations staff, and service ambassadors, in collaboration with engineers from CGH Centre for Healthcare Assistive and Robotics Technology, looked into harnessing these autonomous mobile robots (AMR) for various uses, with an aim to increase efficiency and productivity, and enhance experience for patients and visitors.
Aptly named MEDi, EDi and BLANKi, the robot trio is programmed to take on heavy medication loads, make repetitive trips to various locations, and provide wayfinding and blanket delivery services for patients and their accompanying next-of-kin. Measuring between 1m to 1.3m tall and equipped with sensors, speakers, and a display touchscreen, these AMRs are capable of moving through crowds independently without bumping into other moving objects and people.
EDi – Robotic Navigator
EDi, or Emergency Department innovation, is CGH's wayfinding robot deployed at two areas within the ED to aid patients and their accompanying next-of-kin. With a user-interface touchscreen, the two EDi robots usher them to their intended destinations, communicating in four languages with a smile.
Deployed to help alleviate repetitive tasks from nurses, health screeners, and service ambassadors working in the ED, the EDi robots help to save around four minutes per round trip of wayfinding, or almost 1.5 hours per day.
Ms Elaine Leong Yin Leng, CGH ED Senior Nurse Manager, said, “With EDi, our ED nursing team can save more time and work uninterrupted, enabling us to better focus on emergency patient care. We have also received positive feedback from patients and their family members on their new guide.”
EDi guiding next-of-kin to a patient care area to visit her loved one (Photo courtesy of CGH)
MEDi – 'Smart' Medicine-Delivery-on-Wheels
MEDi, or Medication Delivery innovation, acts as CGH's robotic medication delivery aid on demand, enabling the smooth and efficient pick-up and delivery of medications from the ED pharmacy to identified locations within the ED. Controlled via a tablet at either starting or ending locations of its route, MEDi has an in-built storage system that can transport up to four baskets of medication in four separate compartments, thereby serving four different areas in the ED on each trip it makes before it needs to be restocked.
Carrying out up to 16 rounds of medication pick-up and delivery per day, MEDi frees up almost two hours in time savings per day and saves the ED nurses from walking more than four kilometres per day to deliver medications.
Mr Jonathan Yeo Chang Yong, CGH ED Pharmacist, said, "With MEDi, the ED Pharmacy can better support our nurses as we receive the medication request forms earlier and quicker. Our ED nurses and porters also no longer need to leave their stations for extended periods of time and can focus on patient care. MEDi also improves the workflow between the nursing and pharmacy teams by increasing the efficiency of medication delivery."
Retrieving medications from MEDi by a CGH Emergency Department nurse (Photo courtesy of CGH)
BLANKi – Providing Comfort to Patients
BLANKi, or Blanket Delivery innovation is an innovative roaming robot that cruises around the ED waiting areas, allowing patients and next-of-kin who may feel cold to self-retrieve blankets at their own convenience, thus helping to enhance the overall comfort and well-being of individuals who are awaiting further medical attention.
The implementation of BLANKi has helped to significantly reduce the workload of retrieving blankets by service ambassadors by half, allowing the service ambassadors to focus on other crucial tasks, thus enhancing their efficiency and service in ED waiting areas.
Mr Edward Fung, CGH Service Ambassador, said, "We receive many requests for blankets in a day, and wanted a more efficient way to bring the blankets to patients and visitors. As the newest member of our service team, BLANKi has helped service ambassadors like myself to save time, allowing us to focus on other tasks, such as interactions with patients."
Ms Choong added, "Thus far, we have seen promising results from the trial of our three robotic innovations at the ED, underscoring the importance of embracing technological solutions for sustainable healthcare."
The robotic trial is expected to complete in August 2023. CGH is looking to deploy BLANKi for other self-help items such as bottles of water, while EDi and MEDi may be deployed to other areas on the CGH campus to widen wayfinding efforts and medication delivery needs beyond the Emergency Department.
Delivery of blankets by BLANKi to a patient (Photo courtesy of CGH)