Sunway Medical Centre (SMC) has invested more than RM250,000 to integrate four units of autonomous robots into the hospital’s operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Affectionately known as BellaBot, the robot will be utilised in various wards, starting with SMC’s paediatric ward and lobby.
BellaBot, the “cat-like employee”, has marked its debut in the Malaysian healthcare scene, being the first of its kind to join the hospital’s operations.
Sunway Group’s healthcare arm, Sunway Medical Centre, recently introduced four BellaBots into its paediatric wards and lobby, drawing much excitement from the hospital staff, patients, and caregivers.
The world as we know it is changing, and the bottom line is that it is becoming increasingly important for hospitals to operate safely with proper standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place.
Maintaining social distancing, however, can be challenging in a hospital. It is Sunway’s DNA to constantly adapt, innovate and integrate smart solutions to overcome real-world problems, even in the face of COVID-19.
“We tested the use of BellaBots in our paediatric ward where everyone was amused by the robots’ appearance, interaction and intelligence. They will eventually be rolled out to the adult wards and be used to deliver goods such as medication supplies to the COVID-19 [infected] stations to reduce transmissions [to human employees].” – Bryan Lin, chief executive officer of Sunway Medical Centre
Bella at Your Service
Young patients and their caregivers at SMC’s paediatric wards can now look forward to having these highly advanced robots deliver their meals three times a day.
With four stacked shelves for food trays and customisable delivery functions, BellaBot’s navigation system enables it to manoeuvre around the wards and its human colleagues swiftly and safely.
Built with slight human touch, BellaBot can also “walk” up to young patients via its ‘birthday mode’ function carrying a birthday cake and singing a birthday song to bring cheer to children celebrating their birthdays in the ward.
Other than its duties at the paediatric wards, BellaBot also assumes the role of ‘Lobby Ambassador’ at the medical centre’s lobbies to help visitors find their way around the expanding hospital. BellaBot is currently fluent in two languages, English and Mandarin, with plans to “learn” more languages in the future.
Though it takes time to integrate technology into their daily operations, SMC’s manager of food services Joanne Leow, shared that her team’s response towards including their new robot team member in their processes was positive and encouraging.
“We were pleasantly surprised at the ease with which we were able to integrate BellaBot into our in-patient meal delivery. Bella is definitely a part of the family now. We hope that this technology is a stepping stone towards more forms of integration to serve and care for our patients on a whole new experience.” – Joanne Leow, manager of food services of Sunway Medical Centre
Equipped with Smart Hospital Technologies
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sunway Medical Centre (SMC) has committed to integrating innovative hospital technology with robotic process automation.
The automation seeks to improve SOPs for operational efficiency, state-of-the-art medical equipment, virtual care services, customised in-patient meal orders as well as online appointment bookings.
Last year, the hospital collaborated with Sunway iLabs to build a contactless COVID-19 Testing Pod for healthcare workers to conduct COVID-19 testing safely. Earlier this year, SMC also established Malaysia’s first 24-hour Telemedicine Command Centre to allow patients to consult with their doctors at ease from the comfort of their own homes.
The integration of the autonomous technology of COVID-19 Testing Pods to the integration of BellaBots will serve as the medical centre’s initial investment to help its staff focus on patient care, provide peak capacity demand, and improve overall operational efficiency amidst the pandemic.
“We are thrilled to be the first hospital in Malaysia to adopt the BellaBot technology. This is also timely after being recognised as Frost & Sullivan’s 2021 Smart Hospital Company of the Year just two months ago. With the challenges COVID-19 brings, we are committed to constantly looking for innovative ways on enhancing our patients’ experience while keeping their safety and wellbeing at top of mind,” states Bryan Lin, chief executive officer of Sunway Medical Centre.
“The potential growth of BellaBot is vast. This is just the beginning. The advent of smart technology like BellaBot can help our staff focus on patient care, provide surge capacity during peak demand and improve overall operational efficiency.”