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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Healthy crop of medical inventions at Republic Poly

A new gadget developed by Republic Polytechnic staff can monitor the vital signs of hundreds of people at the same time.
The Straits Times - October 7, 2014
By: Linette Lai
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Healthy crop of medical inventions at Republic Poly Republic Poly's inventors (from left) Tony Tan, 43, Manik Gujral, 34, and Lim Kaibin, 30, with their wireless system for monitoring patients\' vital signs. -- PHOTOS: DESMOND LUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

UNLIKE a human paramedic, a new gadget developed by Republic Polytechnic staff can monitor the vital signs of hundreds of people at the same time.

The prototype, which has been nearly four years in the making, caught the eye of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

The polytechnic team is in talks with SCDF to fine-tune the invention for possible use in large-scale disaster situations.

"If the system is successfully implemented, it can be used during a major emergency where there is a mass casualty situation," said Major Janice Oh, SCDF's head of medical training.

The device consists of an armband and finger clip, which are wirelessly connected to a central console.

It monitors a person's pulse rate and oxygen level, and sends an alert if either were to hit dangerous levels.

The system can keep track of 400 to 500 patients at a time.

"It's something that rarely happens, but the impact in such a situation can be huge," said principal investigator Tony Tan of the polytechnic's school of engineering.

"If the number of casualties is huge, it can be very time-consuming and labour-intensive to manually monitor every one."

The gadget was featured at the polytechnic's technology day last week. The annual event showcases projects by staff and students, and also features talks by industry experts.

Another project - a system to weigh hospital patients while they are in bed - will be piloted at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in a matter of months.

The system costs around $500, said principal investigator Hong Ling Tim, instead of the $10,000 it would cost to buy a specially- made "weighing bed".

His team also developed a phone application with the help of two final-year students. This allows health-care staff to track trends in a patient's weight.

"Weight measurement is one of the most fundamental things," said Khoo Teck Puat Hospital's innovation manager Stewart Tai.

"But sometimes nurses find they have difficulty, especially for obese patients."

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