Five Challenges In Home Care Working With Cold Chain Drugs

Worldwide nurses take care of their patients with rare diseases. Picture: Unsplash User Hush Naidoo

The field of home care is more than just elderly care. Many people do not recognize patients suffering from rare diseases. There are over 7,000 identified rare diseases affecting 350 million people worldwide. Nurses often treat these ill people at their homes. Several days a week, a nurse visits the patient, dispensing the needed medication. If it comes to diseases in which cold chain required drugs are being used, this process becomes more complicated. Here are the five main challenges for home care when cold chain drugs are involved.

1. Timing

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The nurse and the logistical partner always have to meet in person. Picture: Unsplash User Casual Crisis

When a patient is treated for a rare disease with a cold chain drug, logistics is a crucial part. Often the drugs aren’t stored at the patients’ home, and usually, the nurse doesn’t bring the drugs with her either, which means the nurse and the drug delivery specialist must meet at the patients’ house.

This requires a profoundly precise timing from both sides. If the nurse is late, the delivery agent often isn’t allowed to hand over the drugs to the patients themselves. The delivery gets delayed, and everyone involved loses time.

If the delivery itself is not on time, the nurse must wait. This results in her being late for the next patient who is already waiting. In the case of home care for rare diseases time is a precious good. Precise times for drug infusions must be observed.

2. Access

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Keeping drugs and children protected is important for everyone in the household. Picture: Pixabay User free-photos

In case the cold chain medication is stored in the fridge at the patient’s home, these drugs are accessible to everyone living in the household. For families with children, this becomes a difficult challenge. Every time the fridge is opened, the patient must make sure his kid cannot access the drugs.

Not only are these medications costly, for example, the price for the doses of a new drug to treat multiple sclerosis is at 33.000 Euro a year, but even more critical are the harmful effects these strong medications have on someone who is not relying on them – especially young children.

With the active cooling solution NelumBox, this problem belongs to the past. With the use of an RFID secured lock, only people with access to the RFID-card can open the box. Otherwise, the door won’t open, and the drugs, as well as the children, stay protected.

3. Temperature Control

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Keeping drugs in the fridge can be a crucial mistake. Picture: Unsplash User

A similar challenge with storing the drugs in the fridge is the control over temperature. A typical refrigerator is capable of cooling foods and drinks. When it comes to medication, the use of an actual medical cooler is the go-to solution.

A regular fridge often has different temperature zones, for example in the door it gets warmer than in the rest of the refrigerator. At the same time, the back part of the fridge closer to the cooling mechanism becomes considerably colder than the average. This leads to medications being frozen or exposed to higher or lower temperatures than allowed, which winds up to drugs losing or changing their effects.

NelumBox has an inbuilt temperature data logger, which shows any variation of the temperature in real-time. Also, in the unlikely case of a temperature excursion, NelumBox will send a text message to a deposited phone number and shows audio-visual alters, preventing the drugs from getting ruined.

4. Running Out of Meds

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No need to go to the pharmacy with the use of a smart solution such as NelumBox. Picture: Walgreens

Another issue regarding home care for rare diseases with cold chain required drugs, is running out of medication. Especially with rare diseases, it’s essential to maintain a certain agent level within the metabolism. If this level is not secured due to missing drugs at the patients’ home, it often is too late to order new medicines right away. In a worst-case scenario, this can cost months of treatment and lead to worsening of the patients’ health.

NelumBox tracking will show the supplements inside the box at all times. It will also be possible to program NelumBox to reorder new drugs automatically. This prevents mistakes that are naturally made by humans.

5. Flexibility

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Being flexible and spontaneous is an important value in home care for rare diseases. Picture: Unsplash User _m_v_

Often one nurse has, for example, five patients. They all need their drugs, which are bound to the cold chain. The common challenge is that the medicines are stored at each patients’ home. The nurse relies on the patient and the drug delivery being on time.

To give more flexibility to all involved parties, instead of having the drugs stored at the patients’ home, the nurse uses NelumBox as a mobile active cooling system. The medication for all five patients is inside of this one box. The nurse can now quickly drive to all patients, administering their medication one after the other, while saving a lot of time, preventing logistical issues and mistakes in packaging.

With a battery time of up to 24 hours at 2-8°C, NelumBox can easily be used for a whole working day of a home care nurse without recharging or switching batteries.

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