Sint-Trudo is the regional hospital for south-western Limburg and southern Flemish Brabant. It has 310 beds. For monitoring the storage conditions of medication and medical samples, the hospital uses condition monitoring with calibration tags. Condition monitoring is a process in which temperatures and, if necessary, humidity and CO2 levels are measured on a constant basis. An alarm sounds if values deviate from set limits.
At Sint-Trudo’s, temperatures are measured every ten minutes for each fridge near the pharmacy and in the storage area. Those temperatures are sent to the server via a wireless connection. Sint-Trudo discovered that the tags became less accurate over time. “This meant that we could not be certain that our drugs and medical samples were kept under the best conditions”, Toon Pirard, pharmacist at Sint-Trudo Hospital tells us. Furthermore, each purchased tag receives a certificate with a one-year validity only. To qualify for JCI accreditation (a quality label granted only to hospitals that obtain optimum scores for more than 1,300 objective criteria) tags must always have a certificate and therefore must be calibrated every year.
There are three ways to carry out tag calibration. One can either inundate them in ice water and in boiling water to check deviation levels and then reset the values; or purchase one certified reference tag to calibrate ten others; or outsource calibration. “We opted for the latter”, says Toon Pirard. The method of calibrating in ice water and boiling water takes a lot of time, requires additional tags to cover the ones under calibration, and is unreliable and not accepted for accreditation. Even if you buy calibrated reference tags, the process takes time, you still need additional tags and you won’t have a certificate for each tag. Outsourcing the calibration procedure is a bit more expensive, but the costs are counterbalanced by the fact that you don’t need additional tags and that your staff doesn’t need to spend any time on it.”
For these reasons Sint-Trudo opted for calibration as a (managed) service, offered by PHI DATA, a maintenance contract with an annual fixed price per tag. Under such a contract, each year before the expiry date of their certificate, customers receive a box full of calibrated tags including the required certificates and a list of the unique codes. All Sint-Trudo needs to do is change the tags, activate the new tags and pack and resend the old ones. Each year upon return the old tags are checked for wear by PHI DATA. The batteries on the tags are changed every two years. Thus Sint-Trudo has the certainty that the tags always work and doesn’t need to perform any monitoring.
“Calibration as a service is an ideal addition to our existing logging system. We save on labour costs and are able to submit certificates showing that all the requirements are met”, Toon Pirard states.