Harris Health System | Digital Transformation of Cold Chain and Fleet Management

Background

Harris Health System is a fully integrated healthcare organization that cares for all residents, especially under/uninsured citizens of Harris County, Texas. It is regarded as one of the largest and best public health systems in the US. This leading healthcare system generated a net revenue exceeding $2 billion managing over 36,000 annual cases occupying hospital beds and over 1.4 million outpatient visits.

Harris Health System (HHS) faced a unique set of challenges for maintaining total visibility of the temperatures in various coolers of patient medical samples and ambient/refrigerated pharmaceuticals transported by HHS staff within their vehicles between clinics on a daily basis. Shipcom was tasked to assist with real-time monitoring and tracking of environmental data from the fleet of trucks and more than 320 coolers, to increase visibility, improve their efficiencies, and assure compliances for the entire organization at HHS.

In December 2019, the Shipcom team implemented a live proof of concept, with multiple temperature, humidity, and door sensors, to prove the ease of installation and seamless integration of data streams feeding into the Catamaran NextGenTM IoT Platform. Full deployment of sensors, GPS devices, and asset tracking workflows, took place a couple of months later to provide a Common Operating Picture (COP) for senior management, facilities managers, and drivers with a mobile application.

The solution also analyzed the operational status of the HVAC equipment attached to the vehicles and provides maintenance recommendations. Operation of doors used to access the refrigerated spaces was tracked and trended to manage access methods, which reduced the impact of extreme outdoor temperatures.

Shipcom Catamaran NextGen™ platform offered enterprise visibility and control of critical and valuable assets.

Advanced Reports & Dashboards
Constant Compliance Monitoring
User Friendly, Intuitive, & Ease of Mobility
Vehicle Tracking & Telematics
Preventative / Cognitive Analytics via IoT Sensors
Scalable & integrates with New Operational

A snapshot of the Cold Chain & Logistics of Harris Health’s transportation of biological samples from multiple clinics to major hospitals.

SOLUTION: PROCESS & DEPLOYMENT OF IOT SENSORS

Placement of more than fifty (50) cellular LTE gateways, one within each clinic, and one within each of the delivery vehicles, to establish independent sensor networks

Installation of thirteen (13) door operation sensors, one at each closed position of the access door, notifying opening alerts, for situational awareness

Installation and activation of twenty six (26) temperature sensors, one at each of the supply air discharge points within storage area of each vehicle, and one to track the vehicles’ ambient temperatures

Placement of more than three hundred and twenty (320+) temperature sensors, one for each type of cooler (ambient, refrigerated, and frozen), inside insulated transportation coolers used by Harris Health

Deployment of thirteen (13) humidity sensors, one within the storage area of each vehicle to track ambient humidity levels

Activation of thirteen (13) GPS devices, for real-time tracking and telematics of all the vehicles en route

Coolers at HHS warehouse
Temperature sensor installed in coolers
Cellular LTE Gateway installed in vehicles

HHS staff scanning the barcodes on coolers using Catamaran™ mobile app

New coolers & real-time temperature is viewed instantly on the Catamaran™ app

Catamaran™ desktop application offers enterprise control of critical asset status

Software: Shipcom’s Catamarn NextGen™ Cold Chain & Fleet Management Platform
Operational teams at HHS can now easily visualize their entire fleet throughout the city in real-time and proactively manage cooler and trip processes. The application showcases informative KPIs on total trips and active alerts from various parameters during operations which allows transparency into driving safety & productivity, fleet maintenance, cost savings, customer retention, DOT compliance, and root cause analysis.

Catamaran NextGen™ Solution Benefits for Harris Health System

Enhance Regulatory Compliance
Shipcom automated CMS compliances and policy regulations with the documentation of specimen and pharmaceutical transport requirements such as materials distribution practice, and temperature tracking in real-time.
Stay On Top Of Cold Chain Operations
HHS gained total, instant & real-time visibility into fleet, trips, schedules, acceptable temperature ranges, and more, while receiving real-time alerts if any cooler was out of range, or if changes occur along the daily routine.
Alerting, Monitoring & Predictions
Catamaran’s alerts and rules engine assists HHS in making more informed decisions and gain actionable intelligence so they can act faster and efficiently to make decisions backed by data for their entire fleet between numerous clinics.
Increase Efficiency & Productivity
By providing a Common Operating Picture throughout the organizational hierarchy, HHS has boosted their staff productivity and executives’ visibility using capabilities such as cognitive analytics, real-time tracking, and customized policies as required.
Dashboards & Reports
HHS is able to instantly view several out-of-the-box dashboards & reports. They can export them into various formats, and build/share their own customized dashboards & reports for various meetings and submittals to compliance agencies. Secondary navigation pages provide in-depth feedback detailing vehicle, driver, and cooler performances.

Fleet Managers have 60″ TV screens in their Command Center auto-updating Van & Cooler data to take corrective actions daily.

Results

Shipcom’s state-of-the art temperature monitoring system allowed HHS to maintain CMS compliance automatically and tracked medical assets during transportation through the innovative interface. The system incorporates a variety of notification and alarm capabilities which ensure personnel responsible for maintaining product temperature and humidity levels are kept up to date in the unique conditions of the transport environments. Through a combination of labor savings, improved enterprise control, and the audit-proofing of the cold-chain process, HHS has realized tremendous return on investment over the past couple of years.

0 M
IoT Sensor Readings

per year collected, processed & stored

0 K+
Cooler Deliveries

per year loaded, tracked & delivered with proof of delivery e-signatures

0 K
Miles
worth of fleet monitoring provided annually
0 K
Real-Time Alerts
provided to forewarn the drivers and managers about possible product loss

Shipcom Delivers Remarkable Value & Savings

  • Preventing product loss in a single mobile refrigerator or cooler could be approximately $250,000 cost saving, if not more
  • Always prepared for a Joint Commission audit to avoid potential penalties and fines
  • Improving patient satisfaction by ensuring all medical materials are stored and transported within regulated environmental conditions

 

…and now HHS has 100% confidence medications and specimens are stored and transported safely while optimizing productivity of the team.

Tim Brown

Administrative Director, System Logistics

The Catamaran NextGenTM platform enabled HHS to have visibility to all specimens / coolers being transferred between clinics and pavilions. We can now track and trend data to help HHS employ sustainable business decisions. From a compliance perspective, we are smarter and now able to retrieve archived temperature data for audit purposes which is making us “audit proof”. This is so critical for us to prevent potential fines and risks.”

Healthcare • Cold Chain Logistics

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