Students at Ngee Ann Polytechnic can look forward to testing their health-care inventions and solutions in real-life situations, under a new partnership that was forged on Thursday.
The three-year agreement will allow these electrical engineering students to work with health-care professionals at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) to improve on the hospital's work processes, speed up response time in attending to patients and enhance productivity.
Group chief executive Liak Teng Lit of Alexandra Health, which manages KTPH, said the hospital has been working informally with the school since 2004. This agreement between Alexandra Health and the school will "take things to the next stage".
Previously, the projects were on an on-and-off basis, he said yesterday on the sidelines of the signing event at KTPH.
"Now, we have come to a stage where there are so many projects... that it is good for us to formalise the partnership, to give them the commitment that we are working together."
Already, four prototypes of the students are being tested. Three of them are designed to guard patients against injuries from falls, such as hip fractures - the hospital handles more than 300 such cases every year.
One of them, called Sense Me, sounds an alert if an elderly patient falls while in the bathroom. The system works using two ultrasonic ceiling-mounted sensors, similar to the reverse sensors of cars. These monitor the distance from the top of the patient's head to the ceiling. If the patient falls, an abrupt change in this distance triggers an alarm at the nurses' station.
Mr Teo Gek Hwa, a senior electrical engineering lecturer at the polytechnic who heads the project, said health-care staff had indicated that this aspect of elderly patients' safety had always been a concern. If they take a tumble, help has to reach them quickly to minimise pain and injury, he added.
The fourth prototype is a game that trains dementia patients' attention and short-term memory.
Ngee Ann Polytechnic principal Chia Mia Chiang said students will benefit from being able to apply their skills to solve real-life problems. "Such golden opportunities are not easy to come by," he said.
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