When Allina Health, Minneapolis, decided it was time to unify and upgrade its environmental temperature-monitoring system it wanted a flexible system that offered timely alerts that could meet a few important objectives.

Allina staff wanted a temperature-monitoring system for its clinical refrigerators and freezers that offered the flexibility of choosing who receives equipment performance alerts and how often. Allina wanted the system to send messages to such common mobile devices as smartphones, tablets and pagers, as well as desktop computers.

Most importantly, it was critical that the system help Allina to ensure that the refrigerated equipment linked to the wireless temperature-monitoring system meet the manufacturer’s performance recommendations and, therefore, Joint Commission requirements. In addition, Allina wanted technology that offered real-time locating system (RTLS) capability to track specified facility assets and some behavioral unit staff and patients.

After starting with a pilot project at a couple of its 13 hospitals a few years ago, Allina has finished installing Waltham, Mass.-based Stanley Healthcare’s Wi-Fi-enabled Aeroscout environmental monitoring system throughout its system, says Jean Nelson, information services program manager.

Stanley’s product replaces a more basic wired environmental monitoring system at some of Allina’s hospitals and ended the inefficient practice of staff having to record refrigerated equipment temperatures manually with a clipboard and pen, she says.

Nelson says the wireless feature of the new system was a strong selling point. “We chose this solution because it is a more futuristic-thinking company from a technology perspective,” Nelson says about Stanley Healthcare. “As long as your facility is wireless, it’s a good system. All of our hospitals have Wi-Fi, which enables [us] to use wireless automated temperature monitoring.”

Another important system benefit is the flexibility of the MobileView software to send equipment temperature alerts to groups or individuals on staff at predetermined frequencies or times.

“It’s more proactive than manual tracking when you only check the temperature once or twice a day. This is 24/7 alerting. It’s automated alert vs. the human factor of having to do a walk-through to every device,” Nelson says.

The system software also enables Allina to provide detailed reports on equipment performance in the event the Joint Commission visits the health care system for a survey, she notes. The Joint Commission requires that equipment that holds medication or blood must perform to manufacturers' recommendations.

“Using our system, you can bring up real-time historical reports for any date or period that the surveyor asks for,” says Alan J. Stone, asset management and environmental monitoring solution manager at Stanley Healthcare. “You can provide them with printed reports that not only show the issue and when it happened, but it also records the corrective actions and resolution so they have the full audit trail in one system.”

The system’s electronic data management enables Allina facility staff to review the equipment performance history to determine if maintenance or replacement is necessary, Nelson says.

Allina has expanded its use of Stanley’s system to real-time asset tracking of some equipment, another important benefit, Nelson says. The system has been invaluable for managing infusion pump inventory, which enables staff to identify whether unused units are available, she says. Allina also is testing use of RTLS for security for some behavioral health patients and staff, she adds.

Expanding use of the system to RTLS could be fortuitous for another reason, Stone says. There has been preliminary discussion about asset management compliance being required by hospitals under the meaningful use provision of the Affordable Care Act, he says.

Compliance challenge

HOSPITAL // Allina Health, Minneapolis

NEED // Temperature- monitoring and reporting for Joint Commission requirements

SOLUTION // Aeroscout environmental monitoring system