The Vaccine Smart-Fridge is an interesting concept for ambulatory care. It appears to be a consignment vaccine distribution system. Reminds me of a refrigerated single-point automated dispensing cabinet (ADC).
There’s a lot to like here.
By using a consignment model, the vendor offers an ambulatory care clinic low cost, low risk access to vaccines. It also decreases the chance of something sitting in the cabinet beyond it expiration date, or going bad because the temperature is out of range. The company supplying the items has a vested interested in making sure that everything inside those refrigerators is ready for use, and that waste is kept to a minimum.
I believe that the consignment model for pharmaceuticals will only continue to grow. The largest budget item in many pharmacy is inventory, by a wide margin. Refrigerated medications seem to be the main target for consignment, but it’s possible that the model could creep into other spaces as well, especially with the introduction of biosimilars.
The system provides real-time alerts on inventory shortages and temperature. Automated temperature monitoring ensures that things stay within their appropriate temperature range. Heat is bad for lots of medications, especially vaccines. This information can be viewed from a computer or mobile device. I like that it’s proactive.
Single-item access is a great concept for an ADC. This style of distribution is frequently used for controlled substances – morphine, fentanyl, etc. It provides better security than open access trays, drawers, and bays, thus minimizing opportunity for diversion. Does it make sense for everything? No, not really, but in this case it fits.
The system provides access to real time analytics and historical dispensing data. This information could be linked to other systems for easy access to vaccination records.
Pharmaceutical refrigeration is in need of a little disruption, so when I see something like this I’m encouraged that someone is thinking about it. There’s nothing new about this technology, but it does provide a new paradigm to think about.