With rising utilisation and higher manpower costs, it is inevitable for healthcare costs to increase over the next few years. This translates to one of two outcomes in the long term – (1) healthcare is not further subsidised, making healthcare unaffordable and inaccessible to many; (2) healthcare is subsidised to keep it accessible to the major but the government needs to redirect resources from other sectors to accommodate the increased costs. Regardless of the outcome, they are both undesirable and it’ll be necessary to deal with these problems starting now. Healthcare is a recurrent need and it’ll only grow with every passing year.
Information technology will play a crucial role in relieving some of these pressures faced by the healthcare sector with solutions such as wearable trackers and Telemedicine. While these new innovative solutions have been making healthcare more accessible for remote patients, more can still be done at hospitals to not only cut costs but also provide patients and visitors with a better experience.
Cleanliness and sanitisation are of top concern in a hospital and it is necessary that extra precaution is taken to maintain a high standard of cleaning. The pandemic had highlighted the importance of thorough cleaning, especially high-touch surfaces that could be easily contaminated, calling for more frequent cleaning. However, the pandemic had likewise also brought attention to the severe shortage of manpower the environmental services is facing, which meant that certain cleaning tasks may not be up to standard or carried out frequently enough to be effective. Furthermore, with the implementation of the progressive wage model, cleaning companies and facility owners are now faced with higher costs, bigger workloads and a shrinking workforce.
As such, hospitals will need to digitalise their daily operations and extend their workforce in order to overcome the challenges. In this case, extending their workforce refers not to hiring more workers but moving beyond relying on merely manual labour, but to also incorporate technology into their workforce to increase the productivity of the workforce.
First of all, to tackle the immediate problem of insufficient manpower, the adoption of autonomous robots such as the ECOBOT will allow for cleaners to take on higher-value tasks such as sanitising door handles, countertops and other high-touch surfaces. Instead of spending their time on tasks such as mopping and sweeping, which while essential is extremely time-consuming, cleaners can focus on more important tasks that will be key in stopping the spread of virus without compromising on the clean quality of the environment.
The ECOBOTs are fully autonomous robots that top up water and charges themselves automatically without human intervention. Built and designed with minimal maintenance in mind, the robots require as little as only 2 hours of maintenance per month. Equipped with a myriad of sensors, the robots harness the power of deep learning and artificial intelligence to map out the best cleaning timing and routes based on human traffic load and is up to 3 times more efficient than conventional cleaning.
When deployed at a hospital, the ECOBOTs ran an average of 8 cleaning runs daily, translating to savings of over 2,000 man-hours for floor scrubbing. The cleaners were then able to focus on high-touch surfaces and were able to cover more of their periodic work every night, ensuring a higher quality standard. Keeping the floors to a higher quality standard also helped the hospitals during the Covid-19 Pandemic, where disinfectants were added to ensure the floors were not only deep-cleaned but sanitised as well.
Overall, since the deployment of 3 ECOBOT Scrubbers, more than 3,400 cleaning runs were executed, covering well over 77,000,000 sq. ft of space, resulting in an 83.3% productivity gain as more than 2,000 man-hours were saved.
Not only were the cleaning robots highly adopted, but they are also largely popular with the masses as the introduction of these systems not only relieved the staff from the mundane work, it also made their job easier, quicker and better.
The implementation has also revealed flaws to the existing operations which were otherwise unknown previously. Thanks to data analytics, the management is now able to introduce tailor-made solutions and formulate policies to bring out the best in the workforce, elevating the quality of the hospital.