Sunway Medical’s BellaBots cheer patients, protect staff

The robots are introduced at the medical centre’s paediatric ward and lobby 

by AZALEA AZUAR / pic credit: Sunway Medical Centre FB

YOUNG patients and their caregivers at the Sunway Medical Centre (SMC) paediatric ward can now look forward to their meals in excitement, as they would be delivered by BellaBot, a cat-like robot employee. 

SMC recently introduced four BellaBots — which would be serving lunch, tea and dinner — at the paediatric ward and lobby. 

To cheer up a child who may have to celebrate his or her birthday in the ward, a BellaBot would come up to them with a birthday cake and a birthday song. 

These robots, with a cute cat display on their screens, consist of four stacks of shelves where hospital staff and patients can collect and place their trays. 

Their delivery functions and navigation can be customised in order for them to safely move around the wards and humans. 

According to SMC CEO Bryan Lin, the BellaBots have drawn much excitement from both the hospital staff, the patients and their guardians. 

“We tested the use of BellaBots in the paediatric ward where everyone was amused by the robots’ appearance, interaction and intelligence. 

“Eventually, we will release them to the other wards as well,” he said during BellaBots’ virtual launch recently. 

BellaBots also serves as the Lobby Ambassador where it helps visitors navigate their way through the expanding hospital. 

“The other use of BellaBot is to deliver goods or stocks. For example, it can also be used to deliver medications,” Lin added. 

During the pandemic, these robots are also deployed at the Covid-19 wards to reduce staff’s exposure to the virus. 

Currently, BellaBots are available in English and Mandarin but more languages will be included in the future. 

“We are thrilled to be the first hospital in Malaysia to adopt 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 look for innovative ways on enhancing our patients’ experience while keeping their safety and well-being at the top of mind,” Lin said, adding that this launch only marks SMC’s potential growth for BellaBot. 

The advent of smart technology can help its staff to focus on patient care, provide surge capacity during peak demand and improve the overall operational efficiency. 

SMC’s manager of food services Joanne Leow said it did not take them much time to realise that BellaBot is well-received among staff and patients. 

“We were pleasantly surprised at the ease of which we were able to integrate BellaBot into our in-patient meal delivery. BellaBot is definitely a part of the family now. 

“We hope this technology is a stepping stone towards more forms of integration to serve and care for our patients to a different experience,” she added. 

In order to improve the standard operating procedures for operational efficiency, state-of-the-art medical equipment, virtual care services, customised in-patient meal orders and online appointment bookings, SMC has invested in integrating smart hospital technology in robotic process automation. 

Last year, the hospital collaborated with Sunway iLabs to build a contactless Covid-19 Testing Pod so that healthcare workers can safely conduct testing for suspected cases. 

Earlier this year, SMC also established Malaysia’s first Telemedicine Command Centre so patients can easily continue to consult with their doctors from the safety of their homes.