Published: 8th Sep 2021

An award-winning group of GP practices based in and around Wakefield in West Yorkshire is one of the first to adopt an innovative Internet of Things fridge monitoring system to ensure that refrigerators across its seven locations used to store medicines and vaccines are kept at a temperature between +2⁰C and +8⁰C, in compliance with MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) regulations.

Health Care First is a multi-site GP practice serving 32,000 patients, recognised for outstanding performance during a pandemic for its services to the local community. The group has installed the RemoteM automatic fridge monitoring system across all its locations and the dispensary, saving significant amounts of nurse time and eliminating the potential for wastage in the event of a power or appliance failure.   

Lee Duker, IT & Estates Manager for the practice, had been looking for an effective and affordable system capable of monitoring fridges and ambient areas automatically, removing the need for manual checks. Perhaps most importantly, the system needed to be a standalone option and not require connection to the practice’s NHS network link, for reasons of security and data protection.

Health Care First was operating two separate systems at all seven locations, combining time consuming manual checks with small data loggers in the fridges. This combined operation required a significant amount of valuable nurse time and effort, and did not provide for any form of alarm in the event of a fridge or ambient area going out of temperature range for any reason.

Initial trials were conducted at a key site. RemoteM installed a base station and nodes in two fridges and the dispensary area where drugs are stored. This totally standalone system works using battery powered wireless communications, and does not require connection to the practice’s own internet service. Data recording and alerts continue even in the event of a lengthy power failure or outage. If temperature fluctuation occurs, the system generates immediate SMS, email and/or voice call notifications to designated individuals – of particular use for GP practices which may not be staffed in the evenings and at weekends. Following these successful trials, RemoteM systems will be installed in all seven Health Care First locations.

Although most of the alarms have occurred mainly when fridges are being restocked and doors left open for too long, a recent power outage happened late one Friday evening when the practice was closed; Lee was able to monitor this remotely using the system to check that the power was restored before any losses occurred.

Lee is very positive about the benefits for Health Care First. "This is a great fridge monitoring system for healthcare environments," he commented. "It doesn't require any link to the NHS network, it monitors fridge temperatures at regular intervals 24 hours a day and automatically uploads the data to the cloud – we have a simple dashboard to access this. It's quick, easy and reliable, removing the need for manual checks, and means all our fridge data is in one place instead of several different locations - great when it comes to annual CQC inspections. What's more, if a fridge or ambient area like a dispensary does go out of temperature range, it sends alarms via SMS, email or voice call, so our fridges are safely monitored even when the premises are not in use. I would recommend it for speed, accuracy and simplicity."