Name your device and explain how it works?
The SmartCooler is a low-cost temporary storage vessel designed as a replacement of picnic coolers for the safe transport and delivery of blood products within a healthcare institution. By optimizing the SmartCooler with temperature, quantity estimation, and open/close sensors SmartAlerts can be created for clinical staff to aid them in managing their blood products and reducing waste in the OR.
The SmartAlerts include: estimated time remaining within the allowable temperature range and audio and visual indicators when action is required (e.g. change ice packs, close cooler, return to blood bank). It is also wifi enabled to send notifications directly to the blood bank and to integrate with existing location tracking and electronic blood ordering systems where applicable.
ï¿¼What problem in healthcare does the device solve?
The SmartCooler serves to minimize wasted blood products. Packed red blood cells and fresh frozen plasma (FFP) must remain at or below 10 degrees Celsius and FFP expires 24 hours from the time that it is thawed. Therefore it is very important that blood be kept at the appropriate temperatures when in transit to the operating room, so that any unused products may be used elsewhere. Over a 6 month period, our institution estimated a $27,000 cost due to wasted blood products, over half of which is preventable by better cooler monitoring. A simple reminder to change ice packs, or to keep the cooler closed, can prevent a lot of waste.
ï¿¼Why should the device be commercialized?
The SmartCooler provides a strong opportunity for cost savings by preventing unnecessary blood waste. The device is low-cost and user friendly. The alerts will raise awareness of simple actions that can help minimize blood waste (e.g. keeping the cooler closed whenever possible) and provide preventative reminders to ensure proactive temperature control measures (e.g. changing ice packs). Furthermore, implementation of the device does not require specific infrastructure or workflow changes, and is thus widely applicable to all healthcare institutions.
ï¿¼What inspired you to design this device?
As clinical engineers we see and hear the stories of wasted blood products in our facility every day yet we still use a simple consumer technology for a highly sensitive and critical workflow in the clinical setting. Having recently computerized our blood ordering and tracking system and improving safety with electronic double checks and documentation of donor ID information within the EMR we realized there is much more room to improve in the larger process. In addition, each bag of blood product represents an amazing amount of coordination of resources: from the donor’s time, to separation, processing, shipping, and tightly monitored storage. It’s a shame to see something so vital and valuable go to waste.
Geoff Counihan and Karen Kan