Big Tech Weighs In to Help Vaccine Distribution Efforts

Google, Microsoft, and SAP are rounding up partners to support and improve vaccination efforts. While federal efforts are moving forward, local organizations may be looking for help from integrators. Successful vaccine distribution depends on sharing accurate data throughout the supply chain, so organizations and local health departments can make plans and communicate effectively with their communities.


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Image credit: Steven Cornfield

The US is moving full speed ahead in its effort to distribute COVID-19 vaccines throughout the nation. Thankfully, what was considered the hard part—developing a vaccine—is well underway. At the time of this writing, two vaccines are available for public distribution in the US and another from Johnson & Johnson has applied for emergency use authorization. 

After overcoming the hurdles of vaccine development and vaccine delivery, the “last mile” of getting the vaccine into arms is stymying health organizations across every region. States are complaining about a lack of information around supplies and no visibility into the supply chain.

Months ago, the US government’s Operation Warp Speed team tapped Palantir to provide technology to track supplies. In an overview from the US Department of Defense (DoD), Tiberius, the platform Palantir helped the DoD develop, will track inventory and provide real-time information to communities, allowing state and federal agencies to see their orders and track their vaccines. Tiberius also allows every state health department to see details that will help them make decisions on where to send their vaccines.

Sensors and barcodes on the vaccines help collect the data, and are vital to the vaccines safely reaching their destinations. The good news is that data sharing is getting better as each week goes by, and the numbers of people receiving vaccines, even with complaints about lack of information, are steadily increasing.


Vaccine Hub Helps Connect and Manage Supply Chain Resources

Multiple big tech companies also want to help the distribution effort and have been weighing in with support from their areas of expertise. SAP has developed a vaccine collaboration hub based on SAP solutions and Qualtrics technology. The Vaccine Collaboration Hub evolved from a pharmaceutical network developed by SAP and several large pharmaceutical wholesalers and manufacturers. Moderna, in fact, is leveraging the SAP Information Collaboration Hub for Life Sciences to collaborate with its supply chain partners and exchange serialization and associated traceability data.

In building both collaboration hubs, SAP is leveraging its data expertise so that manufacturers, governments, regulatory agencies, service providers and dispensing groups can securely connect and exchange useful information. Lots of valuable data is typically not shareable  because it is stored in large volumes and in different formats. SAP is offering up its data mapping tools and databases to make the data shareable on a secure network, plus adding artificial intelligence and analytics for data insight. Those in the vaccine supply chain will have tools available to help distribute the right vaccines, in the right condition, at the right time and right place.

The hubs rely on cloud-based platforms with dashboards that help partners make sense of the data. In the SAP Vaccine Collaboration Hub, dashboard analytics identify deviations from plans, spot early indications of bottlenecks, offer recommendations for resolutions, and enable re-deployment to overcome shortages of emergency demands. Necessary activities, such as order fulfillment to dispensing units and post-vaccine monitoring, can be initiated, tracked, and managed on the hub.

For government or health agencies, the hub has the potential to let them better manage distribution with a comprehensive view of the supply chain network and visibility into transport, storage, and dispensing. 

Search Tools and Hosting Aid Vaccination Efforts

Similarly, Microsoft has a COVID-19 vaccine management platform that it launched with Accenture, Avandae, EY, and Mazik Global. Patients and providers can manage registration, scheduling, reporting, and handle management and forecasting through a dashboard.

In this set of solutions, organizations can track and report immunization progress through secure data exchange that supports industry standards, such as Health Level Seven (HL7), Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) and open APIs. Health providers and pharmacies can monitor and report on the effectiveness of specific vaccine batches, and health administrators can easily summarize the fulfillment of vaccine deployment goals in large population groups.

Microsoft platforms are already supporting national vaccine efforts. The UK’s National Covid Vaccination Registration Platform, for example, is built via an Azure web form and hosted on Azure. The National Immunisation Management System (NIMS) is hosted and managed on Azure, and it is integrated with Primary Care and National Health Systems (NHS) nationally, using Power BI for reporting.

Google plans to add its muscle to the vaccine effort by adding state and region-specific information about Covid-19 vaccines on its search pages. In vaccine distribution, Google has provided technology that logistics companies use to coordinate trucking operations. Additional Google technology is helping with pre-screening, scheduling, and follow-ups for Covid 19 vaccines. In late February, it intends to add Covid vaccine tracking to VaccineFinder.

These are some of many examples that illustrate the collaboration efforts from big tech. The current timeline for getting everyone vaccinated is quite long, and as distribution moves into pharmacies, sporting arenas, and beyond, communities across the nation will need smart partners with the right technology and know-how. This is a great opportunity to help build stronger, healthier, and more resilient communities.

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