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NYC Hospital Examines WTM Options

Mar 18, 2014

Wireless Temperature Monitoring systems can vary greatly in design, technology, ease of use.

This third piece of the series examining New York Hospital Queens’ experience with Wireless Temperature Monitoring systems as reported on the Pharmacy Purchasing and Products website article, we look at the options considered and some that were not. (Link to PPP Article)

Once medication, blood and nutrition products refrigeration was evaluated and found lacking prompting a replacement of dorm style units with over 100 medical grade refrigeration in patient care areas, the next step was to examine WTM options for evaluation. According to author Alexander F. Melchert, MS, RPh, the Director of Pharmacy at the hospital, “Several WTM systems were evaluated culminating in the adoption of one that best suited our needs.

The hospital selected a device that utilizes wireless sensors connected to probes immersed in a bottle of ethylene glycol as ideal for their needs. The ethylene glycol bottle is used as a buffer to reduce temperature fluctuations that can result in false alerts. (Note: Liquid ethylene glycol and propylene glycol are commonly used in laboratory and food applications, dry sand or glass beads are options that eliminates the potential for liquid spills.) The temperature sensor is immersed into the bottle which is then capped and placed into the refrigerator. Two other factors noted were cost and the ability to self-install, meaning hospital personnel could perform all of the tasks to place the sensors and get them operating correctly, not a small consideration when dealing with new and potentially complicated technology.

Temperature buffer vial comparison: Air, dry sand and propylene glycol shows damping effects of each. Damping is useful to manage momentary temperature changes that are not significant to the product’s efficacy, safety or quality. (Link to Source)

Dry or liquid media filled buffer vial with temperature sensor installed helps reduce temperature fluctuations due to medical refrigerator door opening and the possible triggering of alarms or alerts that do not compromise the medication.(Link to Source)

The Pharmacy Purchasing and Products article’s author describes other aspect of the experience. “The WTM system was phased in over a one-year period. Once an area was integrated into the electronic process we discontinued the use of manual logs, with the exception of situations where network downtime exceeded 12 hours. In addition, because these refrigerators and freezers are designed for hospital use, they typically include ports or access points for inserting the temperature sensors, easing the installation process.

WTM devices can take many forms and use many different technologies. The devices may be battery powered, have internal batteries for backup during power outages, or be powered by the sites electrical power. Which type of power one selects is dependent on whether or not the device is required to be operating when the sites electrical power goes down or, in the case of sites with emergency generators, how long the backup power can operate. Sites that require temperature monitoring regardless of external power sources will want to choose WTM systems that can operate on internal batteries for several days if not longer. Such devices will also need internal data logging and downloading for times when network connects are interrupted.

A second key factor to consider is the wireless communication technology. Several options exist including WiFi, Bluetooth, RFID, ZigBee, WLAN, WiMax, NFC plus mobile communication technologies such as GSM, CDMA and LTE. The choices can be daunting since each wireless technology comes with its strengths and weaknesses. Wireless technology options will be explored in the next piece in this series. The good news is the user need not be an expert on the technology options. One does have to be clear on the requirements or scope of work and once that happens the best option or options will rise to the top.

Wireless sensor communication technologies comparing data rate and range (Link to Source)

Temperature@ert’s WiFi, Cellular and ZPoint product offerings linked to the company’s Sensor Cloud platform provides a cost effective solution for organizations of all sizes. The products and services can help bring a laboratory or medical practice into compliance with minimum training or effort. For information about Temperature@lert’s Cellular and Sensor Cloud offerings, visit our website at or call us at +1-866-524-3540.

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Written By:

Dave Ruede, Well-Versed Wordsmith

Dave Ruede, a dyed in the wool Connecticut Yankee, has been involved with high tech companies for the past three decades. His background in chemistry and experience in a multitude of industries such as industrial chemicals and systems, pulp and paper, semiconductor fabrication, data centers, and test and assembly facilities informs his work daily. Well-versed in sales, marketing, management, and business development, Dave brings real world experience to Temperature@lert. When not crafting new Temperature@lert projects, Dave enjoys spending time with his young granddaughter, who keeps him grounded to the simple joys in life. Such joys for this wordsmith include reading prize winning fiction and non-fiction. Although a Connecticut Yankee, living for a decade in coastal California’s not too hot, not too cold climate epitomizes Dave’s favorite temperature, 75°F.

Temperature@lert Dave Ruede

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