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Central Pharmacies and Drug Supply Chain Management

Many healthcare organizations and hospitals today are moving to centralized pharmacy operations. That’s because centralizing drug distribution can help reduce costs and improve efficiency – freeing up resources to focus on other projects and initiatives. It can also help ensure that sites get the right amount of medication they need to serve their patients, something that may potentially be even more critical as a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes available and needs to be distributed to hotspots and vulnerable populations quickly.

An essential part of delivering quality patient care is making sure that medication remains within the appropriate temperature range to maintain its efficacy. Onsite that typically means an electronic monitoring system that records temperatures in the medication storage environment 24/7. However, monitoring temperatures while medication is in transit is just as important – whether that’s for an hour or for a day.

Medication in Transit

The average amount of time medication is on the road once it leaves the central pharmacy is between one and eight hours. If prescriptions are filled during a normal work day and distributed overnight, which is often the case, medications could spend 12 or more hours in an insulated box with frozen gel packs. Either way, central pharmacies have two options for monitoring temperature to make sure medication stays in the proper range.

Option 1: Single-Use Visual Indication

TransTracker® temperature indicators are single-use devices that monitor heat or freeze exposures, providing an easy-to-read visual indication if medication has gotten too hot or too cold during transit. A small, thin card – the device fits into most any type of package and can be thrown away once it has been read.

Flow diagram of Option 1: TransTracker®
Option 1: Single-Use Visual Indication with TransTracker®

Option 2: Wireless Monitoring

The S-400 is a reusable wireless sensor that logs temperature data continuously throughout shipment and its small size also means it will fit into most shipping containers and coolers. Data is sent via Bluetooth® to our mobile app, which allows couriers and healthcare workers to access temperature data through packaging – helping monitor the cold chain from beginning to end without opening the box. You can also track routes and geolocation using mobile GPS devices as well as share and store data to the cloud.

Flow diagram of Option 2: S-400 Wireless Sensor
Option 2: Wireless Monitoring with S-400 Wireless Sensor

Which solution is best for you depends entirely on the size and scope as well as the operational model of your organization. For large central pharmacies that send out thousands of prescriptions to locations around the country, the TransTracker may be a better option since it is easy-to-read and disposable. For those that may be smaller or have a tight, closed loop distribution cycle, where they can easily get devices returned, the S-400 is ideal because it logs and tracks information throughout transit. Plus, this data could provide valuable insight into your shipping procedures long term.

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