20 vending machines that dispense antigen rapid test (ART) kits have recently been installed at private hospitals and firms in Singapore. Finance technology start-up Beep Technologies is collaborating with IHH Healthcare Singapore's hospitals, such as Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, to install these machines in those medical facilities.
Each hospital has one to two machines, which can hold as many as 480 kits each. This can let staff conveniently undergo routine testing and lessen manpower deployed at each COVID-19 testing station from nine to three workers.
Dr. Noel Yeo, Chief Operating Officer of IHH Healthcare Singapore, said that the decrease can allow for the redirection of healthcare resources to other areas of the hospital.
"This very significant reduction allows us to redirect precious healthcare resources - like nurses and hospital operations staff - to other parts of the hospital, where they can perform more specialised tasks," said Yeo.
To receive the free ART kits, hospital employees need to tap their staff passes against the vending machine's scanner. The machine can verify an employee's identity as each company's human resources team can upload staff pass data into Beep's centralised cloud platform. Beep stated that the machines have been installed at the National University Hospital (NUH), Alexandra Hospital and Ng Teng Fong General Hospital as well.
NUH's two vending machines will provide ART kits to allow for NUH staff-supervised testing of unvaccinated visitors. On the other hand, vaccinated visitors can get the kits for free at the hospital's visitor management service counters. Starting 24 September 2021, NUH visitors must present a valid negative ART or Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test result that was given to them within the past 24 hours of each visit.
Singapore isn't the only country to leverage such technology as a vending machine that provides COVID-19 at-home test kits was unveiled at a Wellness 4 Humanity branch in New York City in January 2021. Customers can buy a test kit here for US$119 (approximately S$162) and can get a result in one to two days.
Prices are steeper at Oakland International Airport, the first U.S. airport to sell COVID-19 test kits in vending machines, letting customers buy at-home Saliva RT-PCR test kits that range from US$130 to US$150 each (approximately S$177 to S$204).
Japan also has vending machines that charge customers for Saliva RT-PCR COVID-19 test kits, selling each for JP¥4,500 (approximately S$55).
Written by Sophia Lopez
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