In light of the current pandemic, the importance of a well-functioning pharmaceutical services sector cannot be overstated – especially in developing countries such as South Africa.
Praba Moonsamy, managing director of the technology company Ikhaya Automation, says that South Africa has well-defined and clearly documented healthcare regulations – one of which is the “Good Pharmacy Practice Manual’” published in 2004 by the South African Pharmacy Council.
Ikhaya Automation develops and manufactures a range of products for live monitoring of temperature and humidity, which it has been supplying to numerous industries – such as the pharmaceutical, health, agriculture, food production, research, retail and transport sectors – since 2008.
“This manual makes specific reference to the transport and storage of thermolabile pharmaceutical products,” says Moonsamy. “It states that storage areas must be temperature mapped and temperature-monitoring equipment installed. Temperature readings need to be recorded twice a day and reviewed daily. The storage area should be connected to an alarm system that generates a warning if the temperature threshold is breached.”
All this is designed to protect the pharmaceutical products that are being stored and, ultimately, the patient who will depend on the medication.
As we find ourselves in the midst of the 4th Industrial Revolution, the pharmaceutical sector can benefit from the constant advancements in technology and a wide ecosystem of technology providers. This results in a reduction in the cost of the electronic solutions that assist pharmacists in meeting the required compliance requirements.
“Technology that was deemed too expensive a few years ago is now well within reach even for small pharmacies and community clinics,” Moonsamy says.
To date, many establishments in the healthcare sector still use manual methods for temperature recording, record keeping and regular review. This can lead to inaccuracies and potential errors, but it also takes valuable time and distracts the pharmacists from their core focus.
Here modern technology can help, allowing automatic temperature reading in minute-by-minute intervals; automatic data analysis; automatic data upload and electronic data storage for the legally defined 5-year period.
This convenience that technology brings means that pharmacists will receive advance notice of any temperature deviation long before the legislated threshold is reached, anywhere in the world and on any device, such as mobile phones, tablets or notebook computers.
These tech solutions also allow pharmacists to proactively respond to any variations, thus avoiding expensive stock losses and maintaining the required quality standard.
“As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said: ‘The only constant in life is change,’ telling us to recognise that our way of living and doing business changes all the time,” Moonsamy points out. “We need to embrace this concept and constantly ask ourselves if the way we live and work is still the most effective. The one who does not critically question yesterday’s way of life and adapt accordingly will be left behind by those who do.”