Discover, Connect & Collaborate at TECHINNOVATION 2021
Beverages For Dysphagic Patients
Patients with dysphagia, difficulty in swallowing, who require thickened fluids to ensure safe ingestion, are frequently dehydrated due to issues of palatability of thickened fluids as well as availability. Patients are usually dependent on nursing staff or trained caregivers to prepare thickened fluids on the spot. In the community, people with dysphagia struggle to comply with Speech Therapist’s recommendations due to ‘extra step’ needed to prepare thickened beverages, hence compromising their safety when drinking non-thickened beverages.
Locally flavoured pre-thickened beverages have been developed to appeal to the local population and improve accessibility in the community. These beverages are available in four flavours including Sugar Cane & Barley, Water Chestnut, Milk Tea and Kopi-O. To align with the International Dysphagia Diet Standardization Initiative (IDDSI), each of these four flavors have been developed to the IDDSI level 2 and 3 standards.
This innovation centre is keen to license their know-how to a production partner that can adapt these prototypes and mass-manufacture the product to a commercially safe standard in a user-friendly packaging that is shelf-stable. It is envisioned that this beverage product should be made accessible to patients in the hospital and to people in the community (e.g. food courts, vending machines, etc.)
Technology Features, Specifications and Advantages
Pre-thickened beverages are available in the current overseas market such as in Australia and Japan but not in Singapore. The current products available are more suited to the palates of their individual local population such as fruit juices.
The key advantage of these formulations is that it is designed tailored to the local palate with beverages which the population is familiar with.
These ready-to-drink / pre-thickened formulations :
- Encourage more patient independence by reducing the reliance on caregivers to thickened fluids for safe swallowing. With increase independence, it also encourages increased oral intake.
- Increase patient safety by providing accuracy of thickened fluids via mass production
- Reduce caregiver stress with increased patient independence in attending to own needs.
- Improve healthcare workers’ efficiency due to easy dispensing by reducing the need for manual thickening of fluids. The amount of time saved performing this task can be better used for more valued nursing needs.
- Encourage job upskilling given the ease of dispensing so that any healthcare worker can be trained to perform this duty.
- Allow social inclusion for patients with swallowing difficulties to engage in social eating/drinking in the community without the additional step of thickening fluids.
Primary application area/ markets
- Restructured/ private hospitals
- Nursing homes
- In the community/ retail e.g. vending machines, coffeeshops, retail pharmacies
Products that can be developed if the technology is adopted
- Wider variety of the locally-flavored beverages
There are currently no such products readily available in the local market. Adopting this know-how and prototypes into products will have the first-mover advantage.
This allows business owners to have the opportunity to collaborate with a large general hospital and expand their client-base leading to business growth.