Hospice care gets tech boost

Singapore's non-profit healthcare institutions adopt mobile devices, shrugging off image that the industry is a technology laggard.
Written by Isabelle Chan, Contributor
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Mobile technologies have lightened the load of some hospice caregivers in Singapore.

Healthcare workers at both HCA Hospice Care and the Home Nursing Foundation (HNF) no longer lug around thick medical records, but are instead armed with personal digital assistants (PDAs) when they visit patients at their homes.

According to Lee Poh Wah, program director of The Lien Foundation which funded the project costs for the two healthcare facilities, the gadgets have raised productivity levels of caregivers.


PDAs have become an indispensable tool

Within a month of the implementation, the HNF reported 14 percent increase in productivity, while HCA reduced the time taken for clinical note-taking by some 33 percent, Lee said in an e-mail interview.

The PDAs have also yielded other intangible benefits.

"Morale and confidence have increased all around," Lee said. "Nurses look and feel more professional."

These medical workers have become more tech-savvy since they began using the mobile devices in July 2006.

At a glance

HCA Hospice Care and the Home Nursing Foundation equip its medical staff with personal digital assistants (PDAs).

To eliminate bulky medical files and needless paperwork.

Project cost
S$280,000 (US$183,165)

Handheld devices
Most nurses and doctors use Microsoft's Pocket PC handhelds because of its portability, but some doctors are using the larger tablet PCs.

 HNF reported 14 percent increase in productivity, while HCA reduced the time taken for clinical note-taking by some 33 percent.

 Morale and job confidence levels of medical workers have risen as they take pride in their use of the latest technologies.

 Caregivers do not have to lug around thick medical files when they make house calls.

 Doctors and nurses share information and collaborate more easily, resulting in enhanced patient care.

"The entire organizational culture and mindset of HNF and HCA have changed tremendously," said Lee. "In fact, the PDA is now a 'sticky' and indispensable tool for the nurses."

News of the successful deployment has spread, attracting interest from both local and overseas organizations.

Lee told ZDNet Asia that the non-profit organizations have received calls from Singapore government hospitals, as well as a hospice and a multinational corporation in Japan.

Spurred by the project's success, The Lien Foundation has embarked on another philanthropic effort to help boost nursing education with the help of IT.

The Lien Foundation aims to foster a new generation of tech-savvy nurses by funding part of the project costs to equip Ngee Ann Polytechnic student nurses with PDAs.

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