Australia’s Leading Pharmacy Service Provider Safeguards Products with Gap-Free Data & Fail-Safe Alarming
HPS is Australia’s leading provider of pharmacy services to health facilities, including private hospitals, cancer treatment centers, and correctional facilities. Founded in 1975, HPS serves over 300 pharmacies regulated under state and federal laws, delivering a range of pharmacy services including; clinical services, pharmaceutical product supply, inventory management, dispensing, opioid management, manufacturing, and oncology treatment preparation. HPS’ operations are backed by EBOS Group – the largest wholesaler and distributor of healthcare, medical and pharmaceutical products in Australasia.
Yianni Sotiriou is Director of IT at HPS and has used the Vaisala viewLinc monitoring system for many years to monitor, alarm, and report on controlled environments throughout the company. Before the viewLinc system was installed, HPS’ Pharmacy Managers relied upon the monitoring devices that come in most industrial-grade refrigerators. But these were problematic in many ways, as Sotiriou recalls: “The fridge loggers did not send real-time alarms to remote personnel so we’d learn of excursions only once data was manually downloaded from the USB loggers.” Normally fridge sensors are set to minimum/maximum temperatures and will give a local alarm when either of those thresholds are breached, but sensors don’t send notification of excursions to staff after hours or on weekends.
“By the time staff return to a site, it could be too late,” says Sotiriou. “Stored products, especially sensitive ones like oncology drugs, don’t tolerate out-of-specification conditions for long. The alarms sent by viewLinc allow our Pharmacy Managers to respond immediately.”
In addition to alarms, the temperature records ensure that whenever an excursion occurs, HPS staff can send the trend report of temperature data to the product manufacturer for guidance on whether the excursion will have affected the drugs’ efficacy.
Over the years, Sotiriou has seen the viewLinc system save products from destruction many times. Although products are fully insured, it’s still expensive and wasteful to lose valuable drugs and biotechnology to equipment or process failures. Sotiriou recalls that a fridge compressor malfunctioned in the middle of the night. The viewLinc system sent alarms to the Pharmacy Manager and pharmacist, alerting them by email and SMS every 15 minutes until they attended the site to investigate. They quickly transferred all of the stock before it was ruined.
“Our system is large enough that equipment failure occasionally happens,” says Sotiriou. “And the products we distribute are valuable enough that, with the real-time alerts we get from viewLinc, we saw payback on the entire monitoring system within the first year following installation.”
As Director of IT, Sotiriou also appreciates viewLinc’s ease of scalability. “When we go through growth periods, the system is easy to add to. Last year we opened ten new pharmacies and found it simple to install new monitoring points to our existing viewLinc system.”
"...we saw payback on the entire monitoring system within the first year following installation.”
HPS’ Pharmacy Managers and pharmacists receive reports on the areas under their responsibility automatically. These are collected for accreditation purposes. Each Pharmacy Manager has access to only their site, with limited rights, and they can pull reports on specific chambers and time periods as needed.
Most of the monitored areas use the DL-series temperature data loggers connected to the viewLinc software with Vaisala’s vNet PoE adaptor. HPS also use an uninterrupted power source (UPS), which further safeguards temperatures in case of power failure. With the vNet PoE, the chambers continue to send data for about 30 – 45 minutes after the power outage. The data continues to record temperatures at the point of measurement so that once power is restored, there are no gaps in the data.
“In IT, no news is often good news, and we like not hearing any complaints about viewLinc,” says Sotiriou. “It’s because the system does exactly what we need it to do. It’s one of the most critical systems we have supporting our business. If viewLinc were to fail, we’d be in a fair bit of strife, so we are happy to be able to depend on it.”
"...If viewLinc were to fail, we’d be in a fair bit of strife, so we are happy to be able to depend on it.”