NKF rolls out new smart card system for dialysis care

In a move to improve patient care, Singapore's largest dialysis provider is introducing a $3 million smart card system that records clinical data automatically.

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) has installed the system at 30 of its centres and will roll it out to the other five by September.

All its 3,500 patients will be issued with free smart cards, which can be inserted into card readers to digitally record their pre-and post-treatment weight and other data like blood pressure while they are hooked up to the dialysis machines.

"There is less disruption to the patient's rest and sleep during the dialysis session and nurses can use the time saved to render better quality care to patients," said an NKF spokesman.

In the past, nurses had to manually record patients' blood pressure every 30 minutes or one hour during a four-hour dialysis session.

Now, the dialysis machine can read the treatment plan for the patient once the smart card is inserted.

Clinical data such as the duration of the dialysis, amount of blood processed and total fluids used will be automatically downloaded periodically.

Freed from such tasks, nurses can focus on matters such as checking patients' medication or chatting with them to see how they are coping. The smart card system also makes it easier to collect data for research purposes.

The digitalisation of care is the latest move by NKF to make things more comfortable for its patients.

Two years ago, NKF introduced overnight dialysis sessions so patients can sleep while undergoing dialysis. As of 2016, there were 6,666 people on dialysis here, according to the latest available data from the Singapore Renal Registry.

Most patients opt for haemodialysis in which a patient goes to a dialysis centre three times a week to get his or her blood cleaned by a machine.

The rest undergo peritonial dialysis, which involves a cleansing process in the stomach.

Most kidney patients have to spend more than 6,000 hours in a dialysis chair to sustain their lives, assuming they live for the average length of 10 years after starting dialysis.

But sitting for four hours can be uncomfortable for some, who may feel dizzy because of postural hypotension - a form of low blood pressure that happens when one stands up or lies down too quickly.

To raise awareness of the challenges faced by kidney patients, NKF is organising an unconventional sit-a-thon at the Singapore Sports Hub on Sept 15.