Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Singapore - Automated medicine packing system sees successful adoption

SINGAPORE: A new automated medication packing system promises to help elderly patients who need to take multiple drugs identify and track their medication use.

The system, called ConviDose, aims to help those who take five or more different pills and was introduced by the National Healthcare Group (NHG) in May 2010 as part of a pilot programme.

The automated packing system works by having machines pre-package patient dosage into sachets according to the stipulated quantity and time the pills need to be consumed.

To ensure patients take their medication correctly, each packet is labelled according to the specific quantity and time the pills need to be consumed.

The description of what the medication looks like, in terms of size and colour, is also included.

It is currently being used by some 3,000 patients in 14 nursing homes and four long stay wards in the Institute of Mental Health.

Toa Payoh Polyclinic has also started using the system to assess patients' needs and fine tune the operational workflow.

NHG said ConviDose would help nursing homes free up manpower, save on storage space and improve medication safety.

ConviDose is at least 14 times faster compared to the calendar blister packs used to organise medications.

"Packing of the calendar blister pack used to take us about 45 minutes per patient. And that's the minimum," Chan Soo Chung, executive director of NHG Pharmacy, said.

"With the machine it saves us a lot of time, I think it's at least 14 times faster. The machine can spit out 25 sachets a minute. That's a huge improvement."

There are plans to extend this service to day care centres and patients under the care of private health care providers.

The Salvation Army Peacehaven Nursing Home executive director Madam Low Mui Lang said the system is convenient for her nurses.

"They (the nurses) don't have to spend three hours a day to pack medication and can give more time to look after the residents in the nursing home," she said.

"In Peacehaven, we have 401 residents. (Previously) you needed at least 28 hours a day to actually pack medication for all the residents in the home."

- CNA/wm

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