The Top 6 Tips for a Successful Virtual Inspection
Concerned about the pandemic but still need to conduct an inspection? With travel bans and strict CDC guidelines requiring extra precautions, on-site inspections can be difficult to conduct. Also, as cold weather brings a predicted potential rise in Covid-19 cases, having a visitor come on-site can elicit concern from both sides, the facility and the inspector, and pose a threat to everyone's health.
Virtual inspections provide the perfect avenue to explore new ways to inspect a facility without having the inspector come on-site. This way both the inspector and the business prevent the risk of spreading COVID-19 and save time and money on travel expenses. (Please note throughout this blog inspector can be interchanged with auditor and inspection with audit.)
In July of 2020, the International Society for Pharmacoepidemiology (ISPE) hosted a webinar titled Virtual Inspections: Navigating the New Paradigm which explained how virtual inspections can be conducted in a variety of ways, many of which can be done in one day or over the course of several days. This flexibility allows room for creative problem solving and a more in-depth dive into the inspection itself.
Here are the Top 6 tips for a successful virtual inspection.
1. Meet with key team members and the inspector on expectations
Set up a meeting via a preferred video sharing software to discuss required documents, expectations for the inspection, and timeline. Consider whether the inspection needs to be done as soon as possible or over the course of several days or months.
2. Consider which option is the best approach for the inspection
Since virtual inspections are flexible, they can be either done through live streaming the inspection with the inspector or providing the inspector with a pre-recorded tour of the facility. The live stream video provides the inspection in real time and allows the inspector to ask the questions and re-visit areas of concern right away. However, the possibility of a poor wifi connection and degraded video quality can impact the inspection during the live stream tour. A pre-recorded tour can provide an effective review of the facility that was planned out in advance over the course of several days with the inspector. Pre-recorded tours will need to be checked before sending to ensure video quality is adequate.
3. Consider what type of camera or device to use
For pre-recorded tours, choose a camera that will capture all parts of the building. A 3D Camera can be a useful way to show the facility and potentially allow the inspector to explore on their own. The following are the most recommended cameras for these types of inspections:
- 360 Video camera (similar to Google street view, which can be done either as a series of photos or as a live video recording)
Another method for pre-recorded tours and live stream tours is to use a cellphone, tablet, or GoPro camera. For live stream tours, consider the following to use for video sharing:
- Skype ™
- Microsoft Teams
4. Positioning the camera
Depending on what camera is chosen for the video, consider whether it needs to be on a separate wheeled device or handheld. To avoid vibrations from uneven floors, the camera can be strapped to a headband or chestband. The camera can also be placed on a wheeled tripod or IV stand and rolled down hallways. Plan the best route to take and provide training for employees on how to hold and operate the chosen device, and let the rest of the facility know that video recording is taking place.
5. Planning the facility tour
For both types of tours, consider what parts of the facility are static or device sensitive areas, have low wifi signals, are hard to reach (crawl spaces), have uneven floors, and stairs. For the best possible quality, have at least 2-3 people assist with the camera while on tour. One person to hold the device, one to watch out for safety hazards, and another optional individual to help with the inspection.
6. Final recap
For pre-recorded videos, either set up multiple meetings as you go along or a meeting to review the final video after the entire facility is recorded. For live videos, after recording the facility, you can either discuss what was seen or set up a follow up meeting to discuss the inspection. Make sure to send required documents either before or after the video was recorded to ensure the inspector has all the information they need to make a proper assessment. Set up a final meeting after or during the video review to go over discoveries and future action plans.
Capturing the facility through video is a considerable undertaking and as noted by the ISPE’s recommended inspection methods, there are many ways to go about getting this done. Each facility is unique, with different safety or security concerns. Keep in mind that virtual inspections may not be feasible for every business. Despite this, virtual inspections are becoming another way to keep projects moving forward during the pandemic.
We'd like to hear from you! For those who have completed a virtual inspection, please share what tools worked for you. For those of you who are just hearing about this for the first time, what are your concerns?