Developing novel technology that spans multiple industry markets is a challenge.  SMART Temps, a wireless solution for temperature monitoring, initially started out in educational institutions, yet the company has found its footing as a significant player in healthcare.  OpenMarkets talks to Josh Griggs, SMART Temps Director of Healthcare Sales to discuss change management, innovation, and the unique world of temperature monitoring in healthcare. 

SMART Temps is the first of its kind in the automated temperature monitoring space.  What makes Smart Temps different, and do you have any competitors?

 The temperature monitoring system we provide is a patented product, which was built and is still maintained by our in-house Engineering team.  As it relates to features that matter to the customer and how we differentiate, there are a myriad.  First, our system can integrate into every department within a hospital.  For example, we can monitor Pharmacy, Lab, Surgery, Dietary, Off-Site Clinics, Morgue, etc.  Most systems can only meet the spec of one department.  SMART Temps can be the sole vendor for any Hospital or System, allowing Administrative users to view the entire hospital(s) from their desk or smartphone.  Not only can we monitor all areas, but we can monitor while meeting all compliance standards and requirements.  We currently market our 3rd Generation of products, which we are extremely confident and excited about. 

We are a monitoring company first, which gives us the time to master our craft and ensure the system meets and exceeds our customers’ need and wants. For example, there are many required features placed by the CDC in the June 2016 Guidelines on Vaccine Storage and Handling, along with the various Vaccine for Children (VFC) programs.  These groups require a separate list of standards in order to comply.  Some examples include a required visual display on the monitor for viewing temperatures, a NIST ISO 17025 calibration certification, a centrally located thermal buffered probe, along with many others.  The system is entirely wireless and reports to a website for temperature log extraction and required action documentation.   Our main and redundant server storage alleviates the need for IT to manage the system.  SMART Temps pushes the data outbound only and do not store data on the hospital servers.  This is extremely critical to hospitals, as HIPAA violations and data breach are top of mind to many.

As it relates to direct competitors in the market, there are several, which we respect and all have their place.  We at SMART Temps are laser focused on being the best sole provider of temperature monitoring in the space.

What is the most notable success story with your temperature management technology? 

Most recently, we installed a large scale project for several different departments.  Our system immediately identified a situation involving their Energy Management System.  At the end of the day, staff would turn off the lights.  These light switches were also tied to the power of the coolers and freezers.  Temps would reach room temp around midnight, then back to normal soon after the switch turned back on.  This critical situation would have remained unnoticed without SMART Temps.

I would have to say our most notable success story as a whole would relate to our customer base.  SMART Temps monitors over 14,000 locations nationwide, with roughly 6,500 healthcare facilities in this representation.  In addition, all of our Customer Support operates in-house here in the great state of Indiana.  Our main focus is the end user, which gives us the ability to work with our customers daily and receive feedback.  The customers we serve share their success stories daily, which is precisely the fuel we strive for.  We are not out to simply sell products.  Our main goal is to sell products that make a difference in the daily lives of our customers and the patients they serve.  Protecting the integrity and efficacy of vaccines, medication, labs, biologics and patient food is at the utmost importance.

SMART Temps grew from a need discovered by the founding/sister company, SMART Systems.   Changing the status quo and branching out into new/unrealized markets is a big risk that you’ve handled successfully.  What advice do you have to other companies that are developing new technology and want to branch out?

Understand your capabilities and focus on your strengths.   Test, test and test some more.  To fully understand new markets, a great deal of due diligence needs to be placed on compliance and the true needs of customers in the space.  Communicating with the end users of your product serves as focus group, which paves the way towards R&D. 

What are some of the greatest risks for healthcare providers not using adequate temperature management technology?

Litigation, inventory loss, failed inspections, patient safety and re-vaccination.  The risks are very high, when it comes to the lack of proper temperature management or inadequate systems.  The first and most important risks involve the health and safety of the patients.  For example, if vaccines and medications are not kept at the predetermined temperature range specified in the package insert, the product’s efficacy can be compromised, or even lost completely.  This may lead to the spread of illness by those who were indeed vaccinated, while the need to re-vaccinate may also play a part. Furthermore, when dealing with patient food, serious foodborne illnesses can cause a huge health and liability risk.  

SMART Temps seems like a technology that could sell itself.  What difficulties do you have selling into healthcare systems?

The product does indeed sell itself, once you are speaking to the right individual within the facility.   There are other systems in the market, which all serve some kind of purpose.  The trouble you may find surrounds decision makers who are not aware of the functionality and most importantly, the compliance requirements the individual departments face.  For example, a Facilities Director may select a system based on cost.   However, this decision maker may not reference the state’s VFC requirements, CDC Guidelines, TJC or FDA requirement changes.  This causes facilities to fail early inspections and recapitalize for certain departments.  The immediate sunk cost is the reason our organization focuses on the entire picture, in every attempt to communicate with the individual departments and end users.

How can healthcare providers most effectively implement technology today and be ready for the new technology upgrades for tomorrow?

The first thing providers should do is educate themselves on the changing requirements and compliance standards for their state(s).  Stay ahead of the curve and be sure you are implementing a system meeting current and proposed changes.   Secondly, it’s advisable to partner with a vendor that is also knowledgeable of the current and future requirements.  Lastly, ensure the vendor you wish to work with has the ability to handle an organization of your size and potential growth.  This also includes the ability to create streamlined processes remotely, without physical equipment upgrades.

How can interested customers discover your products and initiate a purchase?

Interested providers can find SMART Temps products, details, and contact information to connect with representatives within the OpenMarkets platform.  The team can discuss the product functionality and review the web-based reporting tool, through a quick online meeting.  SMART Temps offers a free 30-day trial, which allows the end user to truly vet the system internally, alleviating any apprehension that may come from purchasing products yet to be tested.  With over 14,000 monitored locations, we have plenty of references in each geographical region of the US to share.  Customers can also access the website at www.smart-temps.com or call SMART Temps directly at 877-272-3111 ext. 160 or email at josh@smart-temps.com.  

Tom Derrick

Tom leads a range of core functions for OpenMarkets, including strategic partnerships and marketing. Prior to OpenMarkets, Tom served as a senior communications director for... More about Tom Derrick