Pro-Active Monitoring of Healthcare Cold Storage Units


Monitoring the storage temperature of critical assets and supplies in a healthcare or pharmaceutical environment is necessary to meet various compliance requirements. But beyond compliance, temperature monitoring is also a proactive measure by healthcare providers to save thousands of dollars in losses that can occur if product and/or samples are damaged due to incorrect storage temperature. Reducing waste and lost is also applicable for Medical Research and Biologics Companies.
Some providers still use a manual temperature recording process. In addition to being inefficient, the manual approach can be very slow to recognize an excursion. By the time the manual reading is recorded, the temperature could have been out of spec for many hours. Plus it’s difficult to prove that an excursion did not occur between manual readings. Most providers are upgrading to automated data loggers that monitor continuously, and alarm when temperatures drift out of specification. This approach reduces manual labor and errors, and also provides warning of temperature excursions.
The automated monitoring solution may introduce other concerns to address. Such as who responds to the alerts and how often are alerts generated.
To help reduce the number of “nuisance alarms” for the busy workforce, many operators will put in delays on the alarms. In other words the temperature must be out of specification for 1 to 4 hours before the first alert is generated.
So if the temp drifts out of specification due to normal use of opening and closing the door, or a brief restocking event, the delay on the alarm will enable the unit to recover on its own and bring the temperature back within specification. But the use of these time delays means that by the time the monitoring system alerts the provider to a temperature excursion, the refrigerator may have already been failing for hours (rather than from an excursion from normal use) , and the material itself may be at risk of spoilage in the near future. In other words, by the time a warning comes, the situation could become urgent to save the inventory.
So how can a healthcare provider or pharmacy buffer out nuisance alarms, but still get early warning when a temperature excursion is likely to occur? As is often the case in the “Internet of Healthcare Things”, the answer lies in additional sensors.
Instead of only monitoring temperature, the systems must also monitor the operation of the refrigeration unit itself. For example, a sensor can be used to detect if the door is open longer than expected.
A sensor can also monitor the duty cycle of the refrigerator compressor, and provide a warning if the unit is running at a higher duty cycle than typical – indicating a need for maintenance. (Example maintenance issues include compressor mechanical failures, seal failures, and dirty coils). What if a unit has a temp excursion and a sensor detects the unit no longer has AC power connected; why wait for 2 hours before getting this alert!!? The system should bypass the built in 2 hour delay and alert immediately.
Does a solution like this actually exist? Fortunately, yes! Introducing PowerPath Temp from Emanate Wireless, which monitors and analyzes the AC power line of the storage unit in addition to the internal temperature. By monitoring the AC power line, PowerPath Temp is capable of detecting the key sources of excursions (AC power loss, Compressor Issues, Defrost cycle awry, …), and alarming before the excursion actually happens.
For the temperature monitoring industry, this new product represents an opportunity to more reliably preserve expensive or even irreplaceable products such as pharmaceuticals, vaccines, or human organs and tissues requiring a constant temperature for storage.
PowerPath is easily installed without any particular mechanical expertise. It mounts on the side of a healthcare refrigerator or freezer and is plugged-in between the refrigerator or freezer's plug and an AC outlet. Its temperature probe is inserted through the back of the refrigerator or freezer's plug or routed behind the door seal.
The PowerPath device includes a rechargeable, lifetime battery -- so if a power outage to the refrigerator happens, the unit immediately alerts of this condition and continues to monitor the storage temperature internal to the refrigerator or freezer. The PowerPath Temp uses Wi-Fi technology to communicate with the Cloud Server. It also features Bluetooth Low Energy technology to communicate to a PowerPath mobile application.

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