The 830 Vaccine Doses that Almost Weren’t
And what every lab manager needs to remember
It was a revelation pulled from a pharmacist’s worst nightmares: a freezer containing 830 doses of the coveted COVID-19 immunization had stopped working. The freezer was found to be at room temperature thanks only to a routine safety inspection. As for the sensor designed to alert staff members in such a situation, it failed. (For the record, no, it wasn’t ours.)
The gasp-inducing disclosure gave lab managers no shortage of topics to consider. Here are just three of them:
- Not all sensors are alike.
Not unlike shopping for auto insurance plans, climbing ropes, or lifeboats, shopping for monitoring technology can feel like shopping for a commodity. After all, if nothing goes wrong, what difference does it make? Yet decisions based on price alone can have grave consequences. There is rarely any glory in prevention. But cutting corners while taking preventative measures, especially when those measures can be the difference between life and death, is a surefire way to render all such investments moot.
- Bells and whistles are not enough.
There is much more to lab monitoring than alerts alone. The Elemental Machines platform is an intelligent monitoring system that relies on small sensors to gather data. We consider our sensors a necessary yet miniscule piece of the solution we bring to the table (or rather, lab bench). Instead of bombarding lab managers with a chorus of alerts, we empower them with intelligent analysis that connects disparate equipment, gathers critical data, and connects the dots in meaningful and actionable ways.
- Healthcare heroes deserve capes.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the story’s most significant takeaway of all: after the freezer’s malfunction was discovered, hospital staff sprang into action, racing to administer the vaccines in the few hours before their room-temperature shelf life would expire. In the end, 830 community members received immunizations, and not a single vial went to waste.
At Elemental Machines, the episode is a fresh reminder of why we do what we do -- both the importance of the solution we deliver, and the goodness of the professionals we serve.
- Sridhar Iyengar, CEO at Elemental Machines