Temperature monitoring can help medical supply chain compliance
Thursday, Aug 22nd 2013

Medical products are very sensitive to their environment, and the supply chain is a major part of the process in keeping the items fresh for patient use. Healthcare facilities are growing across the nation, and it's integral for temperature monitoring to be as thorough as possible throughout the life of the products.

Supply chains have the responsibility to give the products the proper treatment until they are in the hands of the buyer. Physical practices outnumber hospitals and are widely dispersed, while having limited space for inventory, according to Becker's Hospital Review. However, the supply chain must still be efficient and seamless in order to manage the medical demand. The supplier must set standards and drive contract compliance in order to deliver the best service and ensure the viability of the products.

"A rapidly growing physician practice business can create a lot of noise for supply chain leaders if things aren't efficiently handled," says Chris Verhulst, general manager of healthcare services with Henry Schein Medical.

Managing medical products
Supply chain management must be attentive in the handling of healthcare items as they face government requirements to ensure that products are effective. A temperature sensor can be used to monitor the products and their environment, allowing the management to make informed decisions by receiving constant updates from the sensor. This technology may be important in the packaging and shipping of the products. One of the things to consider is the climate conditions during transit that could potentially affect the items, according to Eric Newman, vice president of loss prevention at ProTecht Risk Solutions. Any appearance of mishandling, even if the product is still viable, can be cause for the item to be rejected due to the delicate nature of many of the products. The suppliers are fully responsible for the quality of the item as well as documentation to prove the proper level of care was provided.

 "It is imperative that the manufacturer have a firm understanding of the complexities involved within the supply chain and be able to identify potential gaps that could adversely affect the quality or integrity of the product," Newman wrote.

Medical supplies all require a different level of care and attentiveness. Some products like pills may be able to be stored on shelves, while vaccines and liquid medicines will need refrigeration in order to maintain their effectiveness. In a fridge, the supplies should be kept in the middle of the appliance, away from the walls and door, where they could be affected by the outer temperature, according to the World Health Organization. The lower areas of the fridge could be colder than other levels, potentially putting the products at risk and damaging them. 

Suppliers and manufacturers must ensure that medical items are handled appropriately and are viable for use. Temperature monitoring can help supply chains comply with strict federal rules and provide effective medication. Useful products will not only help the manufacturers and supply chains, but will also provide patients with more effective courses of treatment.