Despite gradual statewide-reopenings, COVID-19 is far from over and the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), including eye shields, gowns, and masks persists. However, there is a solution to optimizing the nation’s remaining supply of PPE – it includes harnessing the power of data to identify weaknesses in supply chains.
“Without secure supply chains, the risk to healthcare workers [and the general population] is real,” Explained World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Industry and governments must act quickly to boost supply, ease export restrictions and put measures in place to stop speculation and hoarding.”
The key to optimizing supplies starts with allocation. For organizations including Direct Relief, getting medical essentials – including PPE – to health systems is largely the organization’s mission. However, this can only be achieved as shortages are identified. To do so, Direct Relief is working in partnership with Qlik, a company specializing in data integration and analytics, to find shortages and provide the necessary medical equipment needed to combat today’s public health crisis.
“Without the essential data about what supplies are needed and where they need to go this work would be like finding one’s way through the dark,” explained Executive Director, Julie Kae of Qlik.org. “Previously [Direct Relief] knew what it was getting from suppliers but struggled with how to prioritize distributing it and had limited insights into the new COVID-19 needs.”
Despite these challenges, Direct Relief is now able to analyze real-time data, using a customized supply chain application, showing insights into COVID-19 cases across the nation layered with population information, socio-economic factors, and health statistics.
“Now Direct Relief and their dedicated workers are making informed decisions about what products are needed most and how to prioritize distribution. The value is in visualization and mapping but also the ability to pull in essential data from many sources and blend it into a model with easily digestible and understandable information,” said Kae.
For this public health crisis and any that follow, it’s imperative that this nation’s greater health system is equipped with medical essentials from ventilators and respirators to hospital gowns and even face masks. Beyond having the necessary supplies, it’s crucial for suppliers to know where PPE is most needed. However, for this to be possible both suppliers and healthcare organizations must utilize data. Using supply chain applications, like the one implemented by Direct Relief, data reveals shortages and ultimately helps to create a safer and better prepared workforce and a healthier population as a result.
Learn more here.