The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Medical Centre is a pioneering facility in more ways than one.
The first smart hospital in Hong Kong with full 5G coverage, it started service in phases in January.
It is the city’s first non-profit, private teaching hospital wholly owned by a university that uses pioneering healthcare solutions including an electronic and paperless medical record system.
The hospital has also adopted the Automated Drug Dispensing & Packaging System which provides unit-dose packaging, storage and dispensing of patient medication.
The process starts with a doctor prescribing the medication and a pharmacist verifying the prescription.
The robot then takes over by taking from storage shelves the pre-packed medicine to be sent to the patient’s ward where it is rechecked by healthcare staff before administration.
The system packs the required dosage for each scheduled time individually to make sure patients take their medication on time and reduce the chances of missing and incorrect medication.
CUHK Medical Centre Pharmacy Director Helen Ho explained that all the medication’s information can be accessed by scanning QR codes on the packages.
“From a medication safety point of view, the system can minimise human error in medication management. With the QR code verification, we can ensure the right drug will be given to the right patient at the right time.”
Another pioneering solution introduced to the hospital’s medication distribution workflow is E-Medcart, an Internet of Things-connected drug trolley. Healthcare staff need to scan the code on a patient’s wristband and verify the information to unlock the corresponding compartment on the trolley, reducing the risk of medication errors.
“In case there is any unused medication, for example, because a patient’s condition has changed, the medication can be returned to the pharmacy and reused. This can reduce wastage,” Ms Ho added.
The pharmacy is not the only department to benefit from smart tech.
The medical centre has also installed the Linen Management System, whereby staff place their used uniforms in the return machine and retrieve a fresh set in their size from the dispensing machine.
The medical centre’s Chief Hospital Administrative Officer Jessie Lam said when staff join the hospital on the first day, it will check what sizes of uniforms they need.
“For each staff member, the maximum number of uniforms we will dispatch to them is two sets. If they do not return their uniform, we are unable to dispatch another uniform to them.”
She added that the traditional way of managing linen would require extra manpower from 9am until 6pm, but the automated system enables the hospital to operate it on a 24-hour basis.
To better track supplies, the hospital linen, staff uniforms and patients’ garments are all equipped with radio frequency identification or RFID tags.
The hospital linen can be monitored closely with RFID, from the moment it is sent down chutes to laundry carts on the ground floor, to the moment it is sent to the contractor for washing.
At the hospital’s opening ceremony in September, Chief Executive Carrie Lam highlighted that the current-term Government has been pressing ahead with innovation and technology development, with innovative healthcare and healthcare technology among its focus areas.
She noted that CUHK Medical Centre's development as a smart hospital is in line with the government policy in promoting a smart city, adding that it can serve as an application platform for locally developed healthcare technologies, in particular for startups.