13 Nov 2021


Sengkang General Hospital and IHiS named Runner-Up at Global ICT Excellence Awards for Outpatient Pharmacy Automation System (OPAS)

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SKH and IHiS selected as a Runner-Up of the Innovative eHealth Solutions Award (Public Sector) at the 2021 World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) Global ICT Excellence Awards.

Sengkang General Hospital (SKH) and Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS), Singapore’s HealthTech agency, were named Runner-Up of the Innovative eHealth Solutions Award (Public Sector) at the 2021 World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) Global ICT Excellence Awards for their work on the Outpatient Pharmacy Automation System (OPAS). The award was announced during a ceremony at the 2021 World Congress on IT (WCIT) held in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 13 November 2021.

What is OPAS?
OPAS is a smart solution developed by IHiS, and the first system in the region to integrate different high-speed machines and robotics to automate pharmacy processes of sorting, packing and dispensing a variety of drugs including blister packs, boxes and loose tablets into one complete, end-to-end system. At the SKH campus, IHiS’ pharmacy team worked with SKH pharmacists and local industry partners to implement a custom-built OPAS to suit the operational needs of the hospital.

Previously, SKH Campus pharmacists faced challenges as they had to manually pack high volumes of medicine with a tedious and fragmented packing process involving multiple touch points. This inefficient and error-prone packing process led to long waiting times for patients.

The custom-built OPAS at SKH machines automate up to 65% of daily line items, including auto-labelling and auto-assembly. Up to 80% of drug inventory is monitored and tracked by machines. This has substantially streamlined processes and decreased rework rates due to packing errors from 30% to 10%. Automation has resulted in manpower savings of 3 full-time equivalent hours (FTE) estimated at approximately $100,620 in savings per annum.

Patient safety has been improved, with only 0.068 near misses for wrong drugs and incorrect strength per 100,000 prescriptions. SKH processes around 130,000 prescriptions per year. The patient experience has been enhanced with 90% of patients perceiving their waiting time to be under 15 minutes. 90.74% of patients also noted their satisfaction with the streamlined OPAS process.

Features of OPAS at SKH
A Drug Dispensing System (DDS) picks and packs medication blister packs of various sizes into clear re-sealable bags and then automatically labels them. SKH’s DDS is unique as it can dispense a combination of loose blisters and pre-packed ones and have them packaged in a single Ziploc bag. Current patient waiting time is about 5 minutes. A new feature also allows the machine to pick two strips of medication at a time, up from the current one strip. This will further reduce the picking time and patient waiting time.

A Bottle Dispensing System (BDS) auto loads and dispenses bottled medication with patient-specific labels. This will be enhanced to incorporate small boxes in the near future.

The Drug Packaging and Assembly System (DPAS) streamlines the number of totes by collating DDS and BDS packaging. A network of conveyor belts and robotic arms allows the parallel picking and packing of different types of medications and assembles a patient’s medication into RFID tagged medication totes.

The Parata Max Loose Tablet Dispensing System manages loose table type medication and dispenses them into a patient vial with patient-specific labels.

Double Sided RFID Ready to Dispense Shelves (RTD) will light up when a prescription is requested for by pharmacy stuff and once again when a patient’s prescription is filled. This system also helps identify multiple totes to be collated for both picking and dispensing counters.

The entire end-to-end medication packaging process is orchestrated by an enhanced workflow engine called FasXpress, which optimises the picking, packing and labelling of medication and collates patients’ medication for it to travel on a conveyor and into one single RFID basket or across several baskets. Pharmacists will collect these baskets from the DPAS and place them onto shelves where the labelled and packed medication can be retrieved and given to patients.

About the WITSA Global ICT Excellence Awards
The WITSA Global ICT Excellence Award recognises individuals, healthcare institutions, academic institutions, corporations, NGOs or governments that have made remarkable and successful efforts at utilising information communications technologies (ICTs) as a tool to promote health and healthcare.

The WITSA Global ICT Excellence Awards is one of WITSA’s most recognised and prestigious programs. Started over 20 years ago at the 2000 World Congress on IT in Taipei, WITSA has – as the leading recognised international voice of the global ICT industry – utilised its unprecedented reach into the ICT industry in over 80 countries in order to select the most impactful and innovative candidates from every corner of the world.

SKH and IHiS were named a Runner-Up of the Innovative eHealth Solutions Award (Public Sector) for their work on developing and implementing a customised OPAS.

For more information on WITSA, visit www.witsa.org


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