Synchronized Time Just Hit a New High

If I were being completely honest, when I entered the time synchronization industry, I thought it was a low-tech world where only a select few people in a facility even care how these systems function. While the latter is likely still true today, I have come to embrace the notion that advances in technology can greatly impact even something as routine as ensuring all your clocks tell the exact same time. Technological advances in an relatively mature industry like ours are typically manifested in one of three ways:

  1. Technology that enables tasks to be done faster 
  2. Technology that enables devices to become smaller
  3. Technology that removes complexity

With our introduction of Smart-Sync™ with Bluetooth® low energy technology, Primex has just changed the game in time sync by taking “uncomplicated” to another level.

There are two prominent incumbent systems in market today. First are systems that leverage a transmitter that receives time from GPS or NTP (network time protocol) and then broadcasts the time out to the clocks. The second are those systems that leverage Wi-Fi to communicate with each device. Both systems have inherent challenges either with costly infrastructure or with the complexity and burden that comes with a system where hundreds of devices need to ride on your Wi-Fi network. Our new Bluetooth® solution removes everything that is challenging with previous systems and just makes time sync simple.

We recognize that while our existing solutions are extremely stable and reliable, each have their challenges and in the spirit of putting our consumers first, we continue to leverage technology to remove that complexity. By utilizing Bluetooth® low energy technology, our clocks are truly “plug and play” while at the same time, require less power meaning fewer batteries are needed to run them and even fewer battery changes are required over the course of their useful life.

At the end of the day, our new Smart-Sync™ system delivers the same solution of high quality, reliable synchronized clocks that Primex is known for, but the simplicity with which it accomplishes it changes everything!

Synchronized Clocks: A Simple (Yet Vital) Step Toward Better Healthcare

In hospitals, timekeeping has always been a big part of daily operations. But in today’s era of healthcare reform—where intense focus has been placed on improving care quality and outcomes while simultaneously controlling costs—accurate timekeeping has become an even greater issue. Indeed, facilities that fail to implement effective timekeeping strategies are putting themselves at a serious disadvantage.

Here’s why:

First and foremost, inaccurate timekeeping can result in errors that put patients at risk. In the hospital, perhaps more than anywhere else, time is truly of the essence. In some cases, it can even mean the difference between life and death. For example, in cases where patients require medication at precise intervals—or are being treated with multiple drugs—doses must be administered in a timely manner to ensure effective treatment and to avoid potentially dangerous drug interactions.

But what happens if the clocks throughout a facility are not precisely synchronized? What happens, for example, if a patient is given a first dose of medication in the ICU and then moved to a bed in a different ward prior to the next dose? If the clock in the new room is not in sync with the ICU clock, the dose may be given too soon—or too late. Indeed, for certain healthcare procedures and treatments, even a 3-minute time discrepancy can have serious effect on the quality of care.

Yet that’s not the end of the story.

Timekeeping errors that negatively impact treatment not only put patients at risk, but also make hospitals vulnerable to costly malpractice claims. Unfortunately, the cost associated with malpractice—both in rising premiums and payouts—is a huge industry problem (in 2012, more than $3 billion was spent in medical malpractice payouts).

Here’s the good news: advanced tech solutions are making it easier than ever for facilities to overcome many of their timekeeping challenges. Today, sophisticated clock synchronization solutions are available that ensure every single clock—in every ward and every room in the hospital, the medical office buildings and throughout every location on the facility network—is accurate and precisely synchronized. Even better, with cloud-based services, time synchronization solutions are typically quick to implement and nearly effortless to manage. 

Temperature Probe Certification Tracking: Is the Struggle Over?

Hospitals and other facilities that store medication and other critical inventory in temperature controlled environments are required to provide compliance documentation in accordance with various guidelines issued by the CDC and other authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs).

Unfortunately, maintaining compliance isn’t always so easy.

CDC guidelines, for example, call for continuous monitoring of vaccine storage unit temperatures using “only calibrated temperature monitoring devices with a Certificate of Traceability and Calibration Testing.” The CDC guidelines also state, “Calibration testing should be performed every 1 to 2 years from the last testing date or according to the manufacturer’s suggested timeline.”

For many organizations, manually tracking the certification paperwork and tracking the timelines for re-testing each of their temperature monitoring devices is a daunting process. Adding insult to injury, manual tracking increases the chance for error, and if documentation is inaccurate or incomplete, organizations can face citations by AHJs.  

But, finally, things are looking up.

Healthcare, perhaps more than any other industry, has been impacted by the high-tech revolution. From the introduction and adoption of electronic medical records to new medical device technologies and procedures, breakthrough technologies are changing the face of modern medicine at a rapid pace.

And now we’re starting to see major innovations in facility monitoring technologies—including new and emerging technologies for probe certification tracking and calibration testing.

At Primex Wireless, for example, we just introduced a high-tech, “intelligent” temperature monitoring solution. Our new solution allows organizations to automatically track each probe to ensure alignment with specific policies regarding probe recertification or replacement; quickly access probe status reports; plan timely probe replacement, and easily retrieve the documentation needed to demonstrate compliance to all AHJs. You can learn more here.

What's Driving Businesses to the Cloud?

Cloud-based solutions are still relatively new, and some decision-makers have been hesitant to try them. However, we seem to have hit a turning point. Today, cloud computing has become the status quo for a growing number of industries. Even the healthcare industry (which has been notoriously behind in cloud adoption) has come around. The 2014 HIMSS Analytics Cloud Survey revealed that 83% of IT healthcare organizations were using cloud services and another 9.3% were planning to do so (and those numbers are likely even higher today).

What’s behind this migration to the cloud? In today’s competitive market, it has become increasingly clear that the benefits of cloud solutions far outweigh any risks.

10 business benefits of a cloud-based solution:

  1. Improves data security – In most cases, cloud solution vendors provide higher levels of data security than businesses can handle on-premises; they have the expert human resources needed to assess vulnerabilities, mitigate risk and keep data safe.
  2. Ensures data safety – There’s no risk of losing data due to theft or loss of a computer, laptop, or (gasp!) paper files.
  3. Facilitates regulatory compliance – Complete and accurate data and documentation is stored and managed in the cloud and is accessible on demand.
  4. Lowers capital expenditure – High-cost hardware is replaced with a pay-as-you-go subscription model.
  5. Provides fast deployment – Easy setup and management.
  6. Improves operational agility – Businesses can quickly scale cloud capacity up or down as needs fluctuate.
  7. Provides services on-demand – Businesses only pay for what they need.
  8. Lowers maintenance costs – Updates and technical fixes are handled by the service provider, allowing for on-going improvements with little or no disruption to daily operations.
  9. Eliminates work silos – Cloud-based access enables better collaboration, coordination and benchmarking between departments.
  10. Improves resource management – Cloud-solution vendors provide IT support and services, allowing companies to focus more resources on immediate business goals.

What's holding your business back from adopting cloud-based technology solutions? 

FLU Season: Maintaining Vaccine Efficacy At Mass Vaccination Events

Flu season is upon us! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and last until as late as May, with peaks typically between December and February.

Health care facilities—as well as many pharmacies, grocery stores, schools and workplaces—often offer free or low cost “mass vaccination” events at the start of flu season.

In early November, I took my family to an off-site flu shot event offered through our healthcare provider. When we got to the front of the line, I noticed that the vaccines were stored in a portable red cooler. It was the same type of cooler we use for barbeque parties and camping trips.

That got me wondering about whether flu shots stored in a camping cooler would actually protect us.  

Vaccines are extremely temperature sensitive. Proper storage and reliable temperature monitoring is critical for maintaining the integrity of the vaccine. CDC guidelines state that vaccines must be stored properly “from the time they are manufactured until they are administered” and warns that “exposure of vaccines to temperatures outside the recommended ranges can decrease their potency and reduce the effectiveness and protection they provide.”  

There’s no doubt that mass vaccination events do a great public service. Indeed, the number of people who get an annual flu shot is greatly increased due to such events. And when more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through the community.

So, what’s the best way to store vaccines during off-site events and clinics? Here’s what the CDC recommends:

  • If a properly functioning storage unit is not available, vaccine may be maintained in a properly conditioned insulated cooler.

  • The containers should remain closed as much as possible.

  • Only the amount of vaccine needed at one time should be removed for preparation and administration.

  • A calibrated thermometer (preferably with a biosafe glycol-encased thermometer probe) should be placed as close as possible to the vaccines within the container.

  • At a minimum, temperature readings in the insulated cooler should be read and recorded prior to leaving the provider’s main office, upon arrival at the vaccine administration clinic location, every hour during the vaccine administration clinic session, upon completion of the vaccine administration clinic session, and after return to the main office. Checking and recording the temperature in storage containers ensures that if temperatures are increasing or decreasing over time, providers can intervene before the vaccine is exposed and potentially wasted.

For the 2015-2016 flu season, manufacturers have projected they will provide between 171 to 179 million doses of vaccine for the U.S. market. Have you had yours?

Oregon Implements New Drug Storage Rules for Pharmacies: Will Your State Be Next?

Like many State Boards of Pharmacy across the United States, the Oregon State Board has limited rules on the storage of drugs. But that’s about to change

Beginning January 1, 2016, pharmacies throughout Oregon will face new, stricter requirements surrounding the proper storage of drugs, cold storage monitoring and drug vaccine storage.

Here’s a of Oregon’s new rules:

  • A pharmacy must store all drugs at the proper temperature according to manufacturer’s published guidelines.
  • For pharmacies that store vaccines: A system of continuous temperature monitoring with automated data logging and physical confirmation must be utilized. Documentation of the temperature of each active storage unit must be logged at least twice daily, data must be downloaded weekly, and system validations must be conducted quarterly.
  • All drug refrigeration systems must be measured continuously and documented either manually twice daily to include minimum, maximum and current temperatures or with an automated system capable of creating a producible history of temperature readings.
  • A pharmacy must adhere to a monitoring plan, which includes, but is not limited to . . . maintenance of records of temperature logs for a minimum of three years.

According to the Oregon State Board’s meeting minutes on the topic, the new rules are . The Board’s compliance director, Gary Miner,
indicated that some of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines were incorporated into the draft rules.

To deliver safer, more effective services to patients, it seems likely that other State Boards of Pharmacy may follow suit.

Many Oregon pharmacies scrambling to prepare for new compliance requirements—as well as forward-thinking pharmacies across the country—are halting their manual temperature monitoring processes in favor of automated solutions. That’s because manual monitoring systems—which can result in missed checks, inaccurate readings and incomplete documentation—create increased risks to both compliance and patient safety. Manual monitoring can also reduce a pharmacy’s profitability. Indeed, it increases the chances for inventory loss and is a tedious and time-consuming use of a pharmacy’s skilled human resources.

Today’s top automated environmental monitoring solutions offer a range of features—from continuous monitoring and preventative alerting to meticulous reporting and documentation tools—which can help pharmacies ensure compliance, even in the face of tightening drug storage requirements.


Reminder: Daylight Saving Time Begins Sunday

Although it’s hard to believe with much of the country still battling a persistent winter, this Saturday night/Sunday morning marks the beginning of Daylight Saving Time (DST). At 2:00 a.m. Sunday, March 13, nearly all of the U.S. will set its clocks forward one hour (spring ahead, fall back), resulting in more daylight hours to use for enjoying outdoor activities – including spring sports and events.

Of course, the thought of DST isn’t quite so pleasant for school maintenance personnel who must visit each room with a clock over the weekend and spring it forward manually so all clocks on campus are showing the correct time Monday morning. It can be a costly, time-consuming nightmare – especially with many schools already operating with short maintenance staffs.

For schools using the Primex Wireless Time Synchronization Platform, however, the change to DST is essentially a non-event. The platform automatically adjusts and synchronizes every clock on campus to the proper time with no human intervention required, savings hours of work and expense. Not to mention eliminating excuses for tardiness because the clocks were off.

If you’re not familiar with it, Primex Wireless Time Synchronization Platforms use either a schools’ existing Wi-Fi network or a specialized 72MHz transmission frequency to synchronize all clocks to a single time source. As a result, there’s no panicked calls from faculty saying the clock in their room is off, no students are lingering in the hallways, and your maintenance staff is free to take care of other, more important tasks. 


True Cloud-Based, Mobile-first Design Comes to Healthcare Environmental Monitoring

It’s amazing how quickly we’ve come to rely on our mobile devices for answers. In just a few short years it’s become a part of our DNA.

That’s what makes the introduction of the Primex Wireless OneVue™ Intelligent Monitoring Platform so exciting. Because OneVue is cloud-based, healthcare organizations of all sizes can now manage the monitoring processes for storage temperatures and room temperature and humidity on any wireless or desktop device using any web browser.

The key to OneVue’s intuitive user interface is its mobile-first, responsive design that automatically adjusts to fit the screen and optimize the presentation on smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktop computers. All without downloading any mobile apps or plug-ins. That, combined with its low cost of entry, makes OneVue ideal for organizations of all sizes, from small clinics or pharmacies to large, multi-site health systems.

In fact, because OneVue is a true cloud-based application, the only IT assistance required is configuring the OneVue platform for an organization’s network. There are no servers or software to maintain, and all application updates are applied by Primex. Facilities personnel can even pre-configure the PrimexTEMP or PrimexIAQ sensors before shipment so they automatically find the appropriate network when they are plugged in at the site, delivering true plug-and-play simplicity.

However, what makes OneVue truly unique is that data generated by the sensors is tied to the room, the physical equipment (such as refrigerators) or the inventory (such as pharmaceuticals or nutritionals) being monitored, rather than to the sensors. A comprehensive data trail stays with the monitored asset, meaning users don’t have to merge records to get the complete compliance picture each time a sensor is changed or assets are moved. You’ll always have complete, historical data trails for compliance audits, preventative maintenance, benchmarking, cost comparison, etc.

OneVue’s intelligent structure lets you assign user rights by locations and business units to give access to only the data pertinent to their jobs and minimize distractions. Alert routing rules deliver notifications to the right person at the right time via email, text or phone.

Robust functionality with mobile accessibility is essential in today’s healthcare facilities struggling to manage a growing number of sites with fewer resources. The OneVue Intelligent Monitoring Platform delivers.

To arrange a demo of the OneVue Intelligent Monitoring Platform, please click here and a Primex Wireless account representative will contact you.

Clearing the AIIR about the Ebola Scare

The monitoring and management of hospital personnel potentially exposed to patients with Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) has brought a renewed focus to the protocols, equipment and isolation rooms used in these quarantine situations. Although Ebola is not considered an airborne disease, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that healthcare facilities restrict certain procedures and treatment for Ebola patients to a private room – ideally an Airborne Infection Isolation Room (AIIR) – when feasible.

In a healthcare facility, control of airborne contaminants is essential to providing a safe, healing environment. Yet many healthcare facilities today still rely on smoke tubes or flutter strips to check the airflow and differential pressure of critical healthcare areas, including the AIIRs being used when treating certain infectious diseases. This despite guidelines from the CDC, Joint Commission and ANSI/ASHRAE/ASHE that call for permanently installed monitoring devices for more precise control and safety.

With the Ebola scare, hospitals around the country are quickly realizing they need to adopt a more consistent, continuous, automated method of monitoring for CDC compliance, not only for Ebola, but also for patients with serious, communicable airborne diseases.

The challenge is time. Installing most environmental monitoring systems often requires additional transmitters, bridges or other hardware in addition to the installation of the sensors themselves. However, customers using or adopting the SNS™ platform are leveraging their existing network infrastructure for continuous monitoring simply by adding SNS™ Differential Pressure Monitoring sensors, one of several Wi-Fi based indoor air quality sensors from Primex Wireless.

As your organization considers its differential pressure monitoring situation going forward, Primex Wireless is here to help. Below is a list of reference websites and a link to guidelines for using differential pressure monitoring to protect patients, caregivers and visitors.

Protect Your Primex System from the "Shellshock" Bug

Last week, Primex Wireless was made aware of yet another serious vulnerability discovered in the global IT community. The Bash Code Injection Vulnerability, commonly known as "Shellshock", is very serious and parallels the recent “Heartbleed” security threat in terms of scope and potential risk.

Shellshock is a vulnerability in a commonly used system level software known as Bash, and is used by many Linux-based business systems. It is the shell for CentOS, the Linux-based operating systems used by the Primex Wireless AMP software. With this vulnerability, a hacker could execute arbitrary commands on a machine running the Bash software to obtain private data or manipulate the system.

Primex Wireless Response

We take these threats very seriously, and regard our customers' data integrity and network security among our highest concerns. As is often the case with vulnerabilities such as this one, patches have been released by operating system suppliers that must be applied to secure the software. We have applied the appropriate patches to all Primex hosted AMP 5.x servers to protect our customers using this newest deployment option. No action is required by customers using our hosted AMP 5.x software.

  • Customers with AMP 5.0 or newer installed on the LAN-side of their networks are encouraged to obtain the latest operating system updates from CentOS.
  • Customers running older versions of AMP software (4.x or older) will first need to upgrade to AMP 5.x, and then apply necessary operating system patches.
  • Other Primex devices such as clocks and sensors do not require updates.

We are here to help! If you have additional concerns or questions, please contact Primex Wireless technical support, or feel free to call us at 1-800-404-8112.

Primex Protects Clients from the Heartbleed Bug

The Heartbleed bug has emerged this week as the most severe Internet threat in the past 12 to 24 months. Heartbleed strikes at a weakness in the OpenSSL library could allow attackers access to secure information, such as user names, passwords, and other sensitive data. According to www.heartbleed.com, this vulnerability “… allows stealing the information protected … by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure the Internet.”

In short, the vulnerability exploits a weakness in the very engines used for protection. What is the risk? Attackers could steal data and secret keys, listen to secure communications, and access data directly from application services.

Primex Wireless Invests Heavily in Security

For most Primex Wireless customers, the Application Management Platform (AMP), the software hub of the Synchronous Network System (SNS), is deployed on the LAN-side of client networks. This is how the application was designed to be used and keeps the software and data separate from Internet threats such as Heartbleed.

The recent AMP 5.0 release was specifically designed for Internet-based hosting, and has a robust application stack designed to protect the application and data from Internet vulnerabilities. This includes the selection of CentOS as the new operating system for AMP version 5.0. With a reputation for being stable and predictable, CentOS is closely aligned with Red Hat Linux and is powered by a team of core technologists committed to performance and security. With one update and a quick reboot, any AMP 5.0 appliance can be updated and protected from the Heartbleed vulnerability. Within hours of the Internet bulletins announcing the Heartbleed threat, all Primex hosted AMP 5.0 servers were updated and protected.

Primex Wireless will continue to invest the resources to stay ahead of security threats. Our commitment to reliability and the inviolability of our client’s information is evidenced by the performance of our new PrimexTEMP and PrimexIAQ sensor platform, and shown in our ability to respond rapidly with AMP 5.0 to the Heartbleed threat.

Integrated Technology Keeps Healthcare Operations in Sync

The December issue of Health Facilities Management (HFM) magazine showcases the 2013 Trends in Healthcare – primarily the expanding role of community-based care. More and more off-campus facilities are providing care closer to home, as well as more cost-effective specialized care. Yet the requirements for maintaining regulatory compliance remain the same whether the care facility is the main hospital or an affiliated, freestanding clinic located miles away.

What’s more, operational budgets rarely keep pace with the system expansion and the greater square footage the facilities team must manage. With that in mind, HFM magazine also examines how growing health systems are “tying it all together” with a robust, integrated facilities, biomedical and information technology (IT) infrastructure. The importance of implementing solutions that can monitor and document compliance data of several facility systems at once cannot be overemphasized, not just for efficiency’s sake, but also to benchmark performance across all locations.

An integrated IT solution that provides information about the clinic environment – temperature, humidity, refrigeration temperatures, emergency light status and more – without requiring a physical check by facility personnel is key to operational efficiency and maintaining compliance. Data is gathered onto a centralized repository and displayed on a single, customizable dashboard, giving managers 24/7, at-a-glance visibility of the status of every building in the system. Emerging issues in off-campus facilities can be identified and the appropriate maintenance team dispatched before the issues become big problems, saving time and money, and minimizing downtime of essential operations.

While facility managers in expanding health systems are acutely aware of the need for more efficient processes to manage off-campus buildings, the truth is, all healthcare facility managers face the same pressure to cut operational costs. With a single platform approach to facility monitoring and documentation requirements, facility managers can consolidate disparate, disorganized and error-prone facility management and compliance processes and maximize operational efficiency and productivity.

The 2013 USP Compliance Study

The results of the 2013 USP Chapter <797> Compliance Study show hospital pharmacies continue to struggle with USP Chapter <797> compliance. While a majority of respondents believe USP <797> is a valuable standard of practice that should be implemented, financial/budgetary restrictions and physical plant limitations are considered to be the primary barriers to adoption of all the guidelines.

The national study of sterile compounding practices has been conducted for the last three years by Pharmacy Purchasing & Products Magazine in partnership with CriticalPoint, LLC. The 2013 study included 1,045 participants, 76 percent from hospital pharmacies. In addition to the questions that measured compliance to 36 specific domains, participants were asked to provide feedback regarding the drivers and barriers to adoption of the USP <797> guidelines.

Differential Pressure Compliance Lags
One of the areas that received low scores on the survey is airflows and pressure differential monitoring. USP <797> has specific requirements for pressure differential monitoring, maintenance and documentation. Yet when study participants were asked the following question, only 56.6 percent gave an affirmative answer:

“There is evidence that mechanisms exist to report excursions, repair defects, and document actions taken as a result of any out of limit pressure/airflow condition until resolution.”

The number of respondents in compliance is up from 49.8 percent in 2011, but is down from the 2012 results of 59.8 percent.

Monitoring airflows is a fairly simple way to decrease the incidence of airborne contaminants in sterile processing areas. Continuous monitoring with audible, visual and email notification capabilities can detect changes in pressure differentials as soon as they occur and automatically alert the proper personnel to take action. Pharmacy personnel do not have to take manual readings several times a day and can concentrate on more valuable tasks. If pressure differential excursions do occur, they are immediately detected, reported and documented in complete compliance with USP Chapter <797>. Compare the features of SNS Differential Pressure Monitoring to the requirements of USP <797> and other regulatory agencies »

Visit the Pharmacy Purchasing & Products website to read the full results of the 2013 USP <797> Compliance Study »

To access the free Gap Analysis tools and receive a free action plan to improve your USP <797> compliance, visit CriticalPoint, LLC »

Fall Back With Perfectly Synchronized Time

View this webinar to learn some quick troubleshooting checks you can make to your Primex Wireless Time Synchronization system to ensure all your clocks stay in sync.

If you still need help after trying these tips, you can contact our Tech Support team one of three ways. Our Technical Support Team is available to respond to tech support cases from 7 am to 7 pm Central Time, Monday through Friday

  1. Complete our Technical Support Contact Form to automatically open a case in our queue
  2. Call: 800-404-8112
    Press Option 3 for 72MHz GPS Clocks, Transmitters, and Tone Generators
    Press Option 4 for SNS Clocks
  3. Email: techsupport@primexinc.com

Part II: Manual Temperature Monitoring is Breaking Budgets

Hospitals and healthcare facilities that manually monitor the temperature and humidity of medical refrigeration units face the risk of losing thousands of dollars of inventory in only minutes if the units fail. A 24/7 automated sensor monitoring system with alerting features is the answer to the three challenges of manual temperature monitoring identified in a recent Primex Wireless survey of healthcare executives: Proximity, Budget Restrictions and Timely Compliance.

Budget Restrictions

The Joint Commission, a nonprofit organization that accredits more than 20,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the United States, assumes that hospitals have the staff level to check medical refrigeration units twice a day. However, today’s budget constraints rarely allow administrators to justify hiring staff solely for manual temperature monitoring. According to the recent Primex survey referenced in my last article, 65 percent of hospital facilities managers reported they feel staffing for manual temperature monitoring is inadequate, and, in turn, more than three quarters of respondents anticipated compliance issues in the next two years.

As with proximity challenges, the solution to budget restrictions is a 24/7 automated sensor monitoring system with alerting features for when temperatures stray out of range.

In fiscal terms, an automated system simply takes fewer people to operate. Furthermore, the savings in staff costs are not shifted to IT expenses. An automated system, such as the Primex Wireless SNS Temperature Monitoring solution, maximizes a hospital’s existing IT investments, carrying data securely over existing Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections. In most cases, the system shouldn’t require any additional network equipment. All data is consolidated in a centralized repository allowing staff in various locations access to the same information from any computer with access to the network and the Web-based interface.

The bottom line is large budgets for temperature monitoring are no longer necessary, and the savings don’t stop there. An automated system with alerting reduces the risk of losses of sensitive medical inventories to virtually zero. Plus, all the staff time once spent on a manual system is now allocated to patient care, where it should be. This means less money spent on staffing for manual checks and more money spent doing what hospitals do best: Care for patients in the best possible way.

Part I: Refrigeration Woes Leave Healthcare in the Cold

We recently polled Facility, Environment of Care and Compliance Managers at hospitals and healthcare facilities about the effectiveness of manual processes for monitoring temperature levels in medical refrigeration units. Their responses led me to two main conclusions: Manual monitoring can lead to losses of medical inventory; and, Risk & Compliance Managers are worried the situation will cause regulatory compliance issues.

Managers can remove the risks associated with manual processes by automating sensor monitoring for medical refrigeration units. In this 3-part series, I explore why and how.

When we asked Facility, EC and Compliance Managers at hospitals and healthcare facilities about the effectiveness of manual monitoring for medical refrigeration, three of five reported the loss of medical inventory, such as vaccines or drugs, due to out-of-range temperatures. They also told us the situation makes them nervous. More than 80 percent said they are concerned about manual monitoring of temperature and humidity levels of refrigeration units. More than 75 percent of that same group feels manual monitoring will cause a regulatory compliance issues in the next two years.

In my professional opinion, these managers have good reason for anxiety because the manual process of checking medical refrigerator units comes with three considerable challenges: Proximity, Budget Restrictions and Timely Compliance. The solution to each problem is the same: A 24/7 automated sensor monitoring system with alerting capabilities.

Proximity

While some refrigeration units tend to be close to areas of patient care, such as an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or Neonatal Care Unit (NICU), they also are in basements or storage areas. Staying current with every check for every refrigerator requires more resources and time than the facility staff can spare. The clinical team – primarily nurses – is tasked with checking and recording temperatures. While a workable solution, it’s certainly not ideal because clinical staff members are distracted from their primary job – patient care. If a medical refrigeration unit fails when staff isn’t able to break away from patient care, or if staff members are not near the unit for any other reason, thousands of dollars of medical inventory could be lost.

Additionally, a campus could have multiple locations that are short-staffed (or not staffed at all) during non-peak times, such as weekends. With short failure windows, only minutes need pass for thousands of dollars of medical inventory to be lost when a refrigerator fails and no one is in the vicinity to notice.

With an automated monitoring system, the distance issue dissolves immediately. Devices on units leverage existing Wi-Fi networks to monitor and track temperatures, regardless of where units are located in the hospital or even the entire campus. Alerts can be configured for immediate notification when high or low thresholds are breached. These alerts can be configured to notify the facilities team only when the temperature has stayed out of range for a specified period of time – preventing managers from receiving alerts every time a refrigerator door is opened.

If problems arise, a graphical display of the facility’s floor plan guides support teams to the trouble spots. And when the monitoring manager is not in the office or is moving around the campus, the system sends email or text-message alerts to mobile devices.

Implementing an automated system means all the time spent on a manual system is now allocated to patient care, where it should be. This means less money spent on staffing for manual checks and more money spent doing what hospitals do best: Care for patients in the best possible way.

5 Tips for a Glitch-Free Switch to Daylight Saving Time

Now is the time to make some quick checks of your Primex Wireless Time Synchronization system to ensure all your clocks make the shift when Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday, March 10, 2013. Take an hour to view the recording of the live webinar I presented last fall to learn what to check.

Remember our Technical Support Team is available from 7 am to 7 pm Central Time, Monday through Friday

Call: 800-404-8112
Press Option 3 for 72MHz GPS Clocks, Transmitters, and Tone Generators
Press Option 4 for SNS Clocks

Email: techsupport@primexinc.com

Can You Guarantee The Safety of Your Vaccines?

A recent study by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS OIG) uncovered that providers generally did not meet vaccine management requirements nor maintain required documentation. As a result of the study, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued new recommendations for the storage and handling of temperature-sensitive vaccines.

When the HHS OIG report was released in June, 2012, ABC News published the story on the evening news, creating higher awareness of vaccine storage issues among the general public.

To help mitigate vaccine storage risks, the new Interim Guidance from the CDC focuses on five key recommendations:

  1. Use of biosafe glycol-encased probes or similar temperature-buffered probes to measure temperatures within refrigeration units rather than measurement of ambient air temperature.
  2. Use of digital data loggers with detachable probes that record and store temperature information at frequent programmable intervals for 24-hour temperature monitoring.
  3. Use of stand-alone refrigerator and stand-alone freezer units for vaccine storage rather than combination units.
  4. Discontinuing the use of dorm-style or bar-style refrigerator/freezers for ANY vaccine storage.
  5. Weekly review of vaccine expiration dates and rotation of vaccine stock.

Our own independent study confirms the need for automated temperature monitoring to protect valuable vaccines, pharmaceuticals and other temperature-sensitive medical supplies. More than 75 percent of the Facility, EC and Compliance Managers at hospitals and healthcare facilities polled feel that manual monitoring will cause a regulatory compliance issue in the next two years.

With so much at stake – and now new government guidelines in place – can you afford to take chances with the storage temperatures of your valuable vaccines?

For more detailed information about the new guidelines, download the official CDC documents, or visit the Interim Vaccine Storage & Handling Guidance section of the CDC Website.

Facility Monitoring & Compliance Management Overview

Primex Wireless solutions automate, monitor, document and report essential activities performed by the facility management staff including compliance surveys, temperature monitoring, indoor air quality monitoring, emergency light testing and time synchronization. All solutions are delivered via a single software platform which allows facility teams to manage multiple functions without having to deploy, learn and maintain multiple systems. Primex sensors, clocks, emergency lights and other devices leverage 802.11 b/g wireless and Ethernet networks to communicate diagnostic data and receive updates. No additional infrastructure is necessary and a greater return on the investment into existing IT networks is achieved.

Reducing cost, improving facility staff efficiency and reducing risk are significant gains realized from Primex solutions. By automating repetitive and routine tasks to comply with regulatory requirements, Primex Wireless technology can ensure your facility is achieving ongoing compliance while reducing impact on facility staff.

Primex Wireless Celebrates Company's 10-Year Anniversary with Streak of Successes

Ten years. In some ways it doesn’t seem like a very long time. But factor in the 10 years we are talking about and, well, you understand – the worst Recession since the Great Depression, Apple, Facebook, Social Media, Housing bubble, Google synonymous with a verb, two of the longest wars in U.S. history, Euro crisis, and literally everything moving “online”. There have been plenty of challenges, but our unrelenting focus on customer needs, innovation and employee satisfaction has made Primex Wireless the leading provider of solutions for automating and maintaining facility compliance.

We are celebrating our 10th anniversary by recapping some of our more recent successes, including a run of newly achieved milestones, partnerships and products that showcase the company’s growth and development in its key markets – healthcare, education, manufacturing and government. A few of the highlights include:

  • Achieving a 97 percent customer satisfaction rating
  • More than 13,500 customers in just 10 years with more than 100 added each month
  • Over 1,000,000 installed devices
  • Products sold in 29 countries world-wide
  • Release of the third generation of our SNS platform software, which allows customers to not only synchronize time, but also monitor temperature and humidity, detect water leaks and remotely test emergency lights
  • Launch of an innovative product offering – SNS Surveyor – to assist healthcare facilities with Joint Commission Life Safety compliance and other continuous improvement projects
  • In December we expanded our ability to serve government customers by partnering with Technical Communities, Inc. to sell Primex Wireless solutions through Government Services Administration (GSA) schedules and open market bids.

We are proud of these accomplishments because they demonstrate why Primex Wireless has grown to become an industry leader during the last decade. Our solutions are where our clients need them, always working whenever they need them. Our goal is to serve our customers for another 100 years by continuing to improve our products, release even more innovative solutions and deploy another million devices to the field.

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