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6 reasons to use a digital temperature monitoring system to protect medicine stocks

May 9th , 2024 by

If you work in healthcare or medical research, you will understand the significance of lost or compromised temperature-sensitive stock, such as vaccines, bloods, specimens and medicines. And we’re not just talking about lost monetary value – when stock must be thrown out or is unknowingly compromised by a cold chain breach, there are broader impacts on patient care, vaccination programs and research activities.

So what’s the most reliable and efficient way to protect your stock? There are several methods for achieving regulatory compliance, including the use of thermometers, temperature recording charts and data loggers. But only one can give you full visibility and peace of mind in the event of a cold chain breach: a real-time, digital temperature monitoring system.

We’ve identified the top 6 reasons why hospital pharmacy, clinical and medical research teams are choosing real-time temperature monitoring systems as their primary method of ensuring safe medicine storage.

1. Responsiveness to temperature excursions

In our experience, the top reason that health and medical institutions choose our MonikaPrime digital temperature monitoring system is the 24/7 monitoring that it provides, coupled with real-time email and SMS alerts and escalations – including out of hours when staff are off-site. This means that wherever you are, whatever time of day or night, someone will be notified in the event of a temperature excursion, and immediate action can be taken to safeguard your stock.

Vaccines are particularly susceptible to wastage due to temperature excursions, with at least $25.9 million in Australian vaccines lost to more than 12,000 cold chain breaches between 2014-2018. (Source GP News 2019) And we would all probably agree that wastage is simply inconceivable in the current global pandemic, with vaccines in such short supply.

2. Informed decision-making in the event of a breach

The second reason that live, continuous monitoring is preferable to other forms of temperature monitoring is that it provides flexible, detailed reports to help the staff determine when a breach occurred, and for how long. With manual, paper-based systems and even data loggers, data can be much more difficult to access and interpret. But with Monika’s intuitive reporting software, staff can easily bring up a report of all temperature readings within a given timeframe and quickly identify how long stock breached acceptable limits.

The biggest concern with any cold chain breach is that you ‘don’t know what you don’t know.’ If a refrigeration unit malfunctions or there is a power outage, it is difficult to know how long stock has been out of range and what the maximum excursion was. How do you know which product is safe to keep and which to discard? Perfectly safe stock may be thrown out, or unviable medicines could be used mistakenly. If staff really are doing the minimum twice-daily manual checks, the former is the most likely scenario, requiring you to err on the side of caution and discard a batch.

3. Time saved spent on manual checks and paperwork

If you use a manual, paper-based system or even data loggers, staff are required to check fridge/freezer temperatures twice daily. But manual temperature recording across multiple units takes time. Time to move between cabinets, time to take the reading, time to write it down, and time to file, retrieve, collate and verify records for due diligence, auditing and reporting. For the large healthcare institutions we work with, we estimate total time savings in the range of 25 – 75 hours per week, or 1,300 to 3,900 hours per year after moving to a real-time temperature monitoring system.

4. Reliable and accurate temperature records

How confident are you that twice-daily temperature checks are being carried out by staff each day? And that any breaches are promptly escalated? And that the temperatures recorded are accurate? Any manual system is susceptible to human error. Plus they usually involve the use of a thermometer inside a vial containing a product simulant. This sits on the refrigerator shelf, which means it is subject to being knocked or damaged. Most data loggers will also only measure air temperature – which isn’t a reliable indicator of product temperature.

With Monika’s live, automated temperature monitoring, sensors are discreetly and securely fitted to refrigeration units, ambient environments and freezers. They simulate and record core product temperatures continuously, and can be calibrated to a custom temperature range for the product being stored – to an accuracy of +/- 0.5 degrees. This safeguards highly sensitive products from freeze damage or overheating.

5. Easier auditing and compliance

With Monika’s live monitoring system, you can say good riddance to manual filing and accessing of records, and say hello to a new era of ease and automation. When audit time arrives, the record-keeping and reporting have been done for you – demonstrating your due diligence and showing corrective actions taken in the event of a breach. Staff can quickly run reports from anywhere to satisfy audit requirements – across multiple units, departments and sites.

6. Proactive equipment maintenance

An unexpected benefit of a comprehensive live monitoring system like MonikaPrime is that you can actually save on your equipment maintenance and energy costs. Monika’s sensor technology and software can quickly identify performance issues with your refrigeration equipment – so you can prioritise maintenance and fix units before they fail. Defrost and compressor monitoring also help to conserve energy, reducing your running costs.

Which system would you choose?

Under the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards (Action 4.14), hospitals must “implement systems and equipment that continuously monitor and maintain the integrity of temperature-sensitive medicines.” While the standards don’t specify the type of equipment, the only one that truly fits the bill is real-time monitoring.

Some of Australia’s largest healthcare institutions, including Monash Health and Royal Melbourne Hospital, rely on Monika’s digital temperature monitoring system to protect their stock. It has improved quality control throughout their facilities and given staff valuable peace of mind – not to mention more time to focus on essential clinical or research duties.

Monika has provided temperature monitoring solutions to healthcare and foodservice institutions worldwide since the early 1990s. Our product simulation technology originated from research conducted in an accredited laboratory into 100+ different product types.

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