Nurses attending to a patient at National University Hospital (Source: National University Hospital)

Explore Engineering – National University Hospital
16th September 2016

Over two days, students participating in InnoVenture 2016 made visits to two wards to better understand the workings of the hospital and the problem statement at hand. The visit, held on 13th and 16th September was attended by representatives of six teams of students who are working on the National University Hospital (NUH) problem statement. It aimed to help familiarise students with the layout and setup of the wards in order to facilitate their problem-solving process.

The visit was conducted by Dr Goh Wei-Ping, Senior Resident Physician at the Division of Acute Care as well as Ms Teng Siew Tin and Mr Jensen Seah, staff from the Nursing Administration (Quality) department. The department is tasked with identifying ways of improving the quality and efficiency of nurses.

Students were brought to two wards, a subsidised ward and a non-subsidised ward. The wards were a hive of activity as nurses and doctors scurried around from cubicle to cubicle attending to patients. Mr Seah and Ms Teng explained the day-to-day routine of nurses. Nurse’s activities are classified into “direct” and “non-direct” tasks, where direct tasks involve patient interaction and non-direct tasks include for example, administrative tasks and preparing medication for patients. While the department had successfully increased the percentage of time nurses spend on direct tasks from 30% to 50%, it is looking to increase this by a further 10%.

This can only be done with by first tracking how much time nurses spend on a given task. This is currently done manually, by assigning a staff member to physically shadow a nurse for a day and recording the amount of time the nurse spends on a task. As Ms Teng explained, this is labour-intensive and can only be done infrequently. As such, Innoventure teams have been tasked with developing a system of tracking the amount of time nurses spend on a certain task to replace the current manual system. Already, technology has been implemented towards increasing efficiency in the wards. Dr Goh shared that NUH is the first hospital to go completely paperless, and all patient records are stored on portable workstations called “COW”, or computer on wheels which eliminate the need for hand-written records.

In this way, both nurses and patients benefit, as nurses are able to provide better care for the patients with the new technology. Following the eye-opening visit, the students busied themselves with coming up with possible solutions to the problem.

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