Can we make temperature monitoring of medication within healthcare facilities more efficient?

Can we make temperature monitoring of medication within healthcare facilities more efficient? Article Rating

In healthcare institutions, the temperature of medication in refrigerators is often recorded manually. In practice, this means that an employee of the institution goes through all the refrigerators every day to check and register the temperature of the medication. This data is then manually entered into the system. For healthcare institutions with multiple locations, this is a cumbersome, time-consuming and therefore expensive process.  This can be done more efficiently. In this practical study, we show how healthcare institutions can greatly increase efficiency by centralizing data digitally. 

Background of the practical case

Like many other institutions, the healthcare institution on which this case is based is not only responsible for the daily care of its residents, but also for administering medication. The organization is located centrally in the Netherlands and there are 11 locations. Each location has an attending physician associated with it and the storage of medication is done per location. Sometimes medication is transported from one of the locations to another. A lot of attention is paid to monitoring and recording the temperature of the medication in order to meet the strict internal and external quality requirements. 

Current working method per location

There are four refrigerators per location. All refrigerators are equipped with a temperature logger on the inside. The temperature in the refrigerator must always be between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius. A staff member checks the temperature in all refrigerators daily.

Checking and recording the temperature in the refrigerators

The employee compares the set temperature of the refrigerator with the data on the display of the temperature logger. If these values do not match, immediate action is taken. Once a month, the temperature logger is connected to a PC via USB and the data is exported to Excel. The employee records any temperature violations and describes the actions that were taken to ensure the quality of the medication.

It is mandatory to record and retain the temperature data. During an audit, the employee must be present to hand over the log and provide explanations if requested.

Monitoring during transport of medication

In addition to checking and recording the temperature in the refrigerators on site, the employee is also responsible for recording temperatures during transport. The thermobox used for transport also contains a temperature logger. The data from the logger is exported to Excel after transport. This data must also be submitted during an audit. 

Disadvantages of the current method

Recording the temperature data of all refrigerators at all locations on a daily basis and exporting that data regularly are time-consuming operations. In addition, a manual method is very error prone.

The hardware with a built-in temperature sensor is very sensitive to the ambient temperature. This causes error messages that are not relevant for the quality of the stock. For example, a sensor may react to a heat flow when the refrigerator door is briefly opened. However, this does not mean that the temperature of the medication has risen by the same amount.

There is a severe shortage of staff in healthcare, therefore every minute that cannot be spent on a client is a minute too many. The pandemic put extra pressure on healthcare workers since March 2020. Actions such as logging temperature data were overlooked in the hustle and bustle of the hectic days.

If temperature is not adequately monitored, the efficacy of medication may decrease during treatment. In addition, there is an increased risk of medical complications if the medication was stored for long periods in an environment that did not meet the temperature requirements.

The request for help from the care institution

The healthcare institution asked Praxas for advice in implementing a central system that automatically monitors the temperature at the 11 locations and takes action when values outside the set temperature limits are detected.

This system must meet a number of preconditions. It must be easy to install, user-friendly and accessible to multiple employees. Data must be stored in a clear database and manual operations must be kept to a minimum. The system must be able to be used at both fixed and mobile locations and it must use the existing infrastructure. Expensive and time-consuming changes to the network are out of the question. It must be possible to present a conclusive record in the event of an audit and the financial investment must be kept within bounds.

This was a very extensive set of logical preconditions. Praxas offered a solution that met all these conditions.

Central storage of temperature data

Based on the current shortcomings, wishes and preconditions, it was proposed to work with temperature loggers with a wifi module, sensor and glycol buffer. The  built-in wifi antenna can be connected very easily to any existing wifi network. The external sensor with glycol buffer measures the core temperature of the medication, reducing the risk of erroneous readings. For transports, a combination of a thermobox with a temperature logger was recommended.

The temperature logger communicates with an online platform. Data are stored centrally in the cloud and no manual recording is required. Temperatures are displayed clearly, per temperature logger. The authorized persons receive a message via an app or by email in case of any temperature violations. They can add a note on the platform about the cause of the notification, the steps taken to solve the problem and the state of the medication.

Because temperatures are recorded per temperature logger, different locations can be compared. In addition, one can see which refrigerators are not performing well and may need maintenance or replacement. 

The online platform can be accessed by several people. It is also possible to invite an auditor so that he or she has direct access to all data and can thus audit efficiently.

The result

The implementation of this solution has clearly increased the efficiency of the healthcare institution.  The number of manual actions performed by employees has been greatly reduced. The central storage of data has reduced the risk of errors to a minimum. The result is a comprehensive logbook that is always up-to-date. Only authorized persons have access. Employees spend much less time monitoring and registering temperature data. As a result, this investment yielded savings. Moreover, we have not even taken into account the extra attention and care that the patient receives as a result.

Interested in this solution?

Would you like more information about the implementation of a central system for temperature monitoring of medication in your healthcare facility, general practice or pharmacy? Please do not hesitate to contact us. Together we will look at how this solution can increase the efficiency of your workflow.






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