What is cold chain logistics?
Although technology makes the word feel smaller, people tend to forget that goods must travel thousands of miles before they arrive at their final destination. A variety of popular goods are perishable and need to be stored at specific temperatures. Cold chain logistics are simply temperature-controlled supply chains. The methods for controlling temperature vary from industry to industry, but often include the use of refrigerated trucks, dry ice, and gel packs. Cold chain logistics are often used in the shipment of food, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. Discover how the healthcare industry uses cold chains to get the right medicine to the right people at the right temperature.
How cold chain is used in healthcare
There’s a very fine line between temperate and dangerous when it comes to transporting vaccines and other pharmaceuticals. 2-8 degrees Celsius, to be exact. If temperatures fluctuate more than that turning transportation, there’s a very high chance of spoilage. And we’re not talking about a slightly melted carton of ice cream that’s still edible. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of medical supplies that people depend on to stay healthy. Here are some ways cold chains are used in the healthcare industry:
From the moment they’re manufactured to the second they’re administered, vaccines need to be stored at specific temperatures. While a few degrees fluctuation in temperature doesn’t seem like a lot, they could be the difference between life and death for some people. If a cold chain has outdated equipment or improperly transports vaccines, it runs the risk of:
- Product spoilage. These vaccines must be disposed of, which will cost your facility money. Many newer vaccines can be up to twenty times more expensive than traditional ones, so it’s crucial to keep them in a climate-controlled environment.
- Shortage. The laws of supply and demand can be extremely unfortunate when applied to the healthcare industry.
- Lack of immunization. Children and adults won’t be able to get the shots that they need, leaving them exposed to certain illnesses.
- Administering a bad dose. A nurse may not know that the vaccine was improperly stored and can still administer it. Receiving a bad shot may not protect the patient as well or can even make him sick.
Not convinced by the power of cold chains? Every year, thousands of vaccinations are shipped using cold chain technology to developing countries in order to prevent common childhood diseases. Currently, 1 out of 4 childhood deaths in developing countries can be avoided thanks to cold chains.
Medication has come a long way over the last century. Thanks to brilliant minds and advancements in technology, pharmaceuticals are becoming more and more complex. Within the past decade, the specialty drug industry exploded in growth. It’s estimated that by 2020 the specialty drug industry in the United States will be worth $401.7 billion, an enormous increase over 2012’s $87.1 billion. Not only is medication getting more complex, it also is traveling farther distances. Cold chains have helped the healthcare industry to expand, providing people across the globe access to quality healthcare.
Like vaccines, most medications are temperature sensitive. Some medications can only handle a fluctuation of 2 to 8 degrees, others can’t be exposed to heat over 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Many hospitals receive pharmaceutical shipments in coolers, which depending on the drug, can be safe for 24 to 48 hours without actual refrigeration. Others must be disposed of immediately. Improper cold chain techniques may lead to a person’s critical condition or death if not received on time.
Every year in the United States, there are approximately 13.6 million blood donations. Each of these donations has the potential to save up to three lives. Combine these donations with proper cold chain storage, and thousands of people have the opportunity to celebrate another birthday. Correct storage is crucial when it comes to blood transfusions. In fact, the process of transporting blood is called a blood cold chain. According to the World Health Organization, fluctuating temperatures can reduce the effectiveness of the transfusion and risks bacterial growth. An invasion of bacteria during a blood transfusion can lead to septic shock or even death.
Are you interested in enhancing your healthcare cold chain? Contact Bar Code Direct today for a free consultation.