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September 6, 2017

3 Essential Considerations When Evaluating Temperature Monitoring Systems

Written by TempAlert

Digital temperature monitoring systems are the way of the future. The days of manual monitoring are coming to a close. Quite simply, a clipboard system can’t compete with remote, continuous, automatic, wireless technology. But, if you’re thinking of adopting a digital system, it may seem a bit daunting, given the so many different technologies on the market. How do you compare and contrast so that you can choose the system that’s right for your operation?

3 Considerations

Start with these three important considerations. And ask yourself the following questions when evaluating each system:

  1. CDC Guidelines: Does the system meet—or even better—exceed compliance of CDC rules and regulations?
  2. Technology: What are the specifications and are they flexible enough to suit your specific needs?
  3. Hidden Costs: Are there additional expenses beyond the sticker price of the system that you need to consider?

If you keep these considerations in mind as you review the features and benefits of each system, the most effective and valuable options will rise to the top of your list.

CDC Guidelines

Before committing to any one system, it’s essential to review the CDC Guidelines for temperature monitoring so that you understand at MINIMUM how the system enables your operation to remain compliant with all CDC recommendations, across all locations. For instance, if the monitoring system is truly continuous, you should be able to customize recording intervals as short as 5 minutes. The system should also be able to record the current, minimum, and maximum temperatures since the system was reset to a guaranteed accuracy of +/- 1˚ F. And if an excursion occurs, it should alert you in real-time by email, text, or phone.

Our TempAlert solution can do all of this and more. Our wireless sensors are unique in the industry. Once placed directly in the fridge, there is no need to open the door to check the temperature, as a wireless digital screen attached by magnets on the outside of the fridge provides a visual display of the sensor reading. It also delivers an audible and visual alert when the sensor is in alarm mode.

You’ll also want to consider a thermal buffer vial. A comprehensive system should at least include a physical vial. Be aware, however, that physical devices reduce precious shelf space and increase the risk of product loss associated with glycol spills. With TempAlert’s Virtual Buffer Vial, you can avoid these problems. Our patented modeling approach simulates actual product temperature rather than air temperature, thereby eliminating the need for physical thermal buffers.

Finally, in terms of CDC guidelines, you need to consider the system’s NIST certification process. The USP requires the validation of the monitoring system that you choose, including its measurement accuracy and responsiveness. USP recommends that at least once a year, you do your validating and calibrating with a tool that comes from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). TempAlert’s tools are all guaranteed NIST certified. This may not be true of other systems on the market. Some systems needing to obtain NIST certification can, therefore, require a cumbersome process. It can involve using a temporary NIST sensor that must be installed by the pharmacy—which also has the burden of boxing up the existing sensor and sending back to NIST to be calibrated.

Technology

The second considerations are the system’s technical specifications. Of course, the system should be able to generate all of the reports you need, especially incident reports, and a log of corrective actions taken. Also, check to see if the data is exportable and delivered in formats that your current IT infrastructure can support.

Scalability and reliability are also important. How many sensors can be added to the system? Does the system include a backup battery? How long does the backup battery last in case of power loss? A continuous monitoring system is only as good as the number of sensors required for complete coverage of your operation, plus the assurance that, even in a power outage, it will continue to measure temperatures accurately without fail.

TempAlert’s solution is especially reliable. Our technology stores and forwards temperature logs in the event of power loss or network interruption, ensuring lossless monitoring. And the system’s use of cellular networks makes it all the more secure, by maintaining your sensor database independent of your own network. Cellular technology also ensures high rates of availability and communications because it's not subject to Wi-Fi connectivity failure or network outages.

Hidden Costs

The third consideration is the hidden costs that you don’t read about when you get the bill for the system. One of these costs is system re-calibration. Find out how it works, and if there’s a built-in method for managing calibration documents. Another driver of hidden costs is the need for a system upgrade—find out how often they occur, how much each upgrade costs, and how the system is managed—remotely or onsite.

TempAlert’s solution keeps costs more transparent. Because our sensors are wireless, they deploy in minutes and are self-provisioning. This means we can deploy 250 systems per day to our large clients with thousands of sites. Moreover, no other system except TempAlert offers wireless sensors that can be placed directly in the fridge. Our competitors’ sensors require a wire that breaks the fridge seal, thus voiding the fridge warranty, and causing ice build-up in freezers. Finally, where our competitors can guarantee battery power for only 1-2 years, a TempAlert sensor lasts for 5 years with just 2 AA batteries.

Deploying a digital temperature monitoring system isn’t always a simple process. By keeping these 3 considerations in mind, you should be able to find a solution that works best for your business.

Download our free guide! 

Download our Guide to Evaluating Temperature Monitoring Systems to understand key purchasing questions and learn about the TempAlert Solution. 

Topics: Pharmacy Safety