ghp October 2015 | 29 research & developmen Investigating Wireless Monitoring and Data Recording Technology in Pathology – Richard McCann meets Queen Alexandra Hospital’s Colin Walker. “We’ve been using the IceSpy temperature monitoring system - from a British firm called The IMC Group - in Clinical Microbiology for more than 12 years,” explains Colin, “and in Sept 2007 we had the opportunity to expand the system across Pathology when all the disciplines relocated to new purpose-build pathology premises at the hospital. So the expansion of IceSpy out of microbiology into blood sciences and into cellu- lar pathology was based on the experiences of its value in microbiology during the previous five years.” That experience-based decision took the department from manual record-keeping to an entirely automated monitored and recorded system: “Before we had automated wireless monitoring of temperature-re- lated equipment, somebody would be tasked with going round and filling in the sheets for each piece of equipment to record the temperature,” says Colin. “And because we have a large number of pieces of equipment that lost us an hour out of each day!” The wireless monitoring removed the need for busy staff to go around with a chart and manually record the equipment temperatures each day. But there were other advantages: “We were manually recording temperatures only once a day whereas the wireless monitoring gave us the advantage of recording on an hourly basis. So we then had a ‘real time’ idea of how the equipment was performing, such that if there was a fault or the temperature fell outside the minimum and maximum parameters that we’d set up, then the system would give us an alarm, warning that there was a problem.” Portsmouth Pathology has four Base units - two in Blood Sciences, one of which is in Transfusion, anoth- er one in Microbiology and one in Cellular Pathology. And across pathology there are 134 temperature probes. “We monitor a range of equipment from refrigerators and freezers (with a range between -20 and -80°C) through to incubators (range +30 to +42°C). We use some of our probes to record both the equipment and the room temperature – that’s important in store areas where we keep consumables. We have the ability to set minimum and maximum temperatures at which individual scout probes will trigger the alarm and we use a visual strobe alarm such that if a piece of equipment falls outside its designated temperature range the strobe will illuminate so everybody in the laboratory can immediately see that there’s a problem. In order to turn the alarm off we have to actively go and do something about it!” Colin Walker manages the Department of Clinical Microbiology at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth. The department occu- pies a section of the hospital’s state-of-the-art Pathology Centre and provides a comprehensive range of diagnostic and clinical microbiology services including bacteriology, mycology, parasi- tology, TB diagnostic service, diagnostic and screening serology and a range of molecular techniques for diagnosis of bacterial and viral infections. in addition, the department provides clinical advice on diagnosis, interpretation of results, infection and out- break control management and public health investigations and education and training on all aspects of microbiology.