Our company has been developing, designing, and manufacturing temperature monitoring and control equipment for over 40 years, especially for refrigeration, and we are dedicated to solving problems such as those that may arise in the day-to-day management of thermolabile products, or in room management for preparation and prescription areas.
We’re talking about the impact on the stability of medication, which can have two effects with differing severity, and which can affect the development of medication. One would be the deterioration of the medication (in which case it should be disposed of), and the other is the loss of its therapeutic potency.
Consequently, these are two quite undesirable scenarios. In this regard and given the current conditions in pharmacies, are we all doing our best to improve the efficiency of our businesses, resources, and operating costs?
A basic task for this type of product is ensuring the necessary temperature conditions, and there are always two basic areas in a pharmacy: a prescription-filling area and a cooler or refrigerator, where thermolabile medications are stored.
We help to comply with regulations, and we offer a variety of solutions. The current practice is the most widespread: reading and writing records on paper by hand, which is labour intensive and involves having a person who cannot perform other tasks of greater added value for the pharmacy, since they are busy with handwritten records. This system also carries the risk possible errors due to the use of handwritten records.
There is other equipment available on the market, but it requires data retrieval, such as a type of thermometer that is inserted like a USB and placed in the refrigerator, and from which data can be downloaded to an Excel spreadsheet.
Once downloaded, the people in the pharmacy have to know how to interpret the data in order to know what is happening with the temperature of these products. There are also other more advanced systems, which use wifi. They are not so simple and, in the end, they generate more cost in time, configuration labour, and perhaps a complicated start-up process.
Therefore, a year and a half ago we asked ourselves if all this was really helping to minimise the impact of these product losses in the pharmacy sector and realized that it was not; so in this forum of new technologies and the pharmacy sector, we have proposed other solutions for the sector.
At AKO we opted for IOT technology (Internet of Things), and thousands of applications could be discussed about computers that connect directly to the cloud without the need for a modem or a router, and equipment that just needs to be turned on and connected to the cloud to transmit the data. There is already a cloud manager that presents this data in a fairly friendly way.
Within the IOT there are several technologies, such as narrow band, which allows for greater signal penetration than 4G, to give an example that everyone is already familiar with. In our case, which is data such as temperature, it is the best option because we only need to penetrate inside the refrigerator and export that data out. The difference would be like walking through the snow with snowshoes or with heels. In this case, it is a solution completely free of cables, that is always monitoring and also alerts the user of any problem with the conservation of the products. The communication is more immediate. Imagine that you go home on a Saturday at nine o’clock in the evening and do not go back to the pharmacy until 9 o’clock in the morning the next Monday. If the refrigerator has a failure or the power goes out, all of the medications inside it will most likely be a complete loss. With our solution the system would send you an alert immediately and you could monitor it at any time, from any place, even from your own mobile or from a PC.
“Within the IOT there are several technologies, such as narrow band, which allows for greater signal penetration”
The device provides information represented by widgets, which are like the ones we are used to seeing on physical activity wristbands.
This device is very easy to use; it connects with a single button and when it is pressed, it starts working within a few seconds. It is not necessary to make any extra connections or enter any type of advanced configuration. Furthermore, it is a solution that pays for itself quickly, not so much because of the costs of the product, but also because of the bureaucratic management it helps avoid.
The reliability is total: the NB IOT network has 100% coverage in Spain and there is no problem with connectivity in basements, below concrete slabs, etc.
The data transmission system is encrypted with maximum security and is redundant, as both the computer and the cloud store the data (three years on the computer and indefinitely in the cloud).
“Data and reports are automatically generated, ready for both internal use and presentation to the inspector”
In conclusion, all the management tasks and regulatory quality and audit reports, etc. are completely automated: the pharmacists can configure it so that each Monday -for example- they receive an email with reports on the thermolabile products in their work area, laid out completely and ready to deliver to the inspector, or for the pharmacy’s internal analysis.
It is completely modular and scalable to thousands of devices. Pharmacies can be grouped by region, franchise, or any other type of grouping.