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COVID Vaccines Highlight The Critical Importance Of Environmental Monitoring

Written By John Eaton on February 23, 2021

The COVID-19 experience has brought to light the critical importance of environmental monitoring: that is, the ways and means to ensure the reliability and certainty of temperature, humidity and other environmental conditions for medicines and other valuable assets within a hospital setting. From food service to clean rooms to blood banks to vaccine storage, there are critical requirements in place to ensure the safety, viability, and availability of a hospital’s internal supply chain.

Enviromental Monitoring Convergint

In fact, the "cold chain" surrounding the manufacture-to-dispensing of COVID vaccines has emphasized this point recently. Moving and managing sensitive materials that need to be kept at -70 degrees presents many logistical challenges. Instances of hospitals around the country accidently allowing vaccines or other medications to thaw have resulted in spoilage of those critical materials and disrupting a hospital’s best efforts to deliver care to their patients. These losses have a considerable monetary impact as well: one nearby hospital experienced a power outage to one of its freezers over a weekend and lost $40,000 worth of vaccines, which needed to be rapidly reordered at the hospital’s expense.

 In response, IMS can partner with hospitals to design and install enterprise-wide environmental monitoring (EM) systems to help prevent similar events from happening. For instance, starting with locations that store key medications such as COVID vaccines, IMS can install a Real Time Locating System (RTLS) platform to monitor and deliver status of every freezer and refrigerator across a hospital campus, including offsite facilities. IMS will walk each site with a customer, identifying the specific asset to be monitored (freezer, refrigerator, room, etc.), materials stored (blood, vaccines, food, etc.) and attributes to be measured (temperature, humidity, air pressure, etc.) to match the sensor kits that provide optimal monitoring of each condition. All the monitored data are streamed to a central reporting platform so all hospital teams (biomed, facilities, clinical, EVS) have visibility to the current state of each asset and can respond to any out-of-range or offline conditions immediately. Additionally, this system will automatically generate a wide range of reporting to meet local, state, and Federal compliance standards, and ensure routine recertification of sensors per NIST and Joint Commission requirements.

 This system can later be expanded to include monitoring the relative humidity of in-patient rooms or differential (positive/negative) air pressure in operating rooms, clean spaces or COVID triage spaces, among other requirements. Ultimately a comprehensive and well-designed EM solution ensures that hospitals or clinics have complete visibility to the conditions that enable delivering patient care safely and predictably, reducing risk and avoiding costly system failures.

 We know that COVID-19 has fundamentally altered the way hospitals manage through crises, but IMS knows that technologies such as RTLS and environmental monitoring can be failsafe tools to keep hospital staff more focused on patient care, and less on losing the critical assets and tools needed to deliver it.

 Please reach out to IMS for further information regarding our RTLS solutions.

Topics: COVID, environmental monitoring

John Eaton

Written by John Eaton

I’m a firm believer in putting insights to work, to use the wealth of knowledge and information available to us and create the “so what” that drives innovation and improvement in business. Favorite quote (of late): “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen Covey.

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