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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? 

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 account representative will contact you.

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 »

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.

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 Vaccine Storage & Handling Guidance section of the CDC Website.

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