Changi hospital, SUTD put in $1m for tech fund

PHOTO: Changi hospital, SUTD put in $1m for tech fund

Nurses at Changi General Hospital (CGH) could be pushing lighter carts and walking shorter distances after the set-up of a fund aimed at encouraging better designs for the hospital and its equipment.

A memorandum of understanding was signed on Monday, which sees CGH and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) contributing $1 million, split equally, to the HealthTech Innovation Fund.

Disbursed as grants, the fund is expected to fuel 10 projects over the next two years. Staff from the institutions - combining SUTD's engineering skills and CGH's medical knowledge - will work with one another to improve medical devices, hospital communication and how data is analysed.

But they will have to first pitch their ideas, part of an effort to "crowdsource creative ideas we can implement", said CGH's chief executive Lee Chien Earn.

While most hospital research funds tend to be geared towards finding cures, innovation in equipment is just as important as both patients and nurses age, said Mr T.K. Udairam, group chief executive officer for Eastern Health Alliance, of which CGH is a part.

"With an ageing population comes new challenges. It affects the kind of furniture we use, or how we optimise workflow," said Professor Martin Dunn, SUTD's associate provost of research.

The length of corridors, for example, may not be very long but having to walk back and forth adds strain to the nurses' backs, he explained. A better communication system can alleviate this. Meanwhile, the lightweight food trays which airlines use could replace the current ones in the hospital.

Calling the collaboration a "prime example of the symbiotic relationship health-care institutions can foster with academia", Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said the "synergy of engineering and health-care design ... could also serve as a blueprint for other future partnerships".

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