Vaccine Management Podcast Episode 4 - Practical approaches to close the vaccine data analytics gap
Sources referred for information
- Harnessing the power of analytics for vaccine distribution and administration
- Infosys Vaccine Management Solution
Vaccine Management: Closing the Gap
Nick: Hello, I am Nick Demetriades. Thank you for joining us in the fourth episode of our podcast – Vaccine Management – Closing the Gap.
In this podcast, we interview Dr. Suman De on the state of vaccination efforts, the challenges that governments are facing, and what they should do to get the vaccines into the arms of the public quickly and safely.
Welcome, Dr. Suman.
Suman: Thank you, Nick.
Nick: Doctor, there’s so much that has happened over the last few weeks. The vaccine supplies seem to be improving. States are relaxing restrictions and at the same time expanding eligibility for the vaccinations. The virus, though, it seems to be spreading faster. And, the CDC director said, she felt an impending doom about a possible fourth surge. What are your thoughts?
Suman: Well Nick, the Director is right. The highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant has already fueled an alarming rise in COVID19 cases and hospitalization in parts of Europe. It’s a reason for worry as we could be next. If we don’t double down on the safety measures until more people are vaccinated, it can become a future wave for us. We have to come together again as fast as possible. In fact, we are at a striking distance of vaccinating almost everyone over the next 2 months. So, people just need to be a little patient for a little bit more of time.
Nick: With that, let’s talk about expanded eligibility. In our last few episodes, we had discussed about the gaps in registration, scheduling, data integration and communication. Wouldn’t these issues become more pronounced when more people queue up for these vaccinations and what other issues would governments face? What do you think Doctor?
Suman: We have all witnessed the struggles of public health agencies as they vaccinated people in the earlier phases. And, these operational challenges will only increase if they don’t implement the lessons that they have learned.
Another area that agencies are not looking into is the analysis of vaccine related data that is generated every day. That can be a big weapon to drive outcomes of this program.
Agencies haven’t institutionalized an agile, data-driven strategy for collecting, analyzing and interpreting data to guide policies around vaccination, program outcomes and to ensure that immunization targets are being reached. This will definitely become a very critical requirement for the future phases.
Nick: If that’s the case, why haven’t agencies been able to define and execute on their vaccination data and analysis strategy Doctor?
Suman: Well, there are a few reasons. One of them is the lack of clear guidelines or documentation related to COVID19 data collection and reporting. And, agencies’ inability to leverage automated technologies to simplify data collection and analysis process.
Let’s me talk about data collection process and the issues that we have currently.
You have been vaccinated right, Nick?
Nick: Yes, I have.
Suman: So, you have seen that each vaccination record comes with a paper document that you get from the CDC. And, then there is a backend, manual process of entering this record in the system that leads to a delay in reporting. This eventually results in inaccurate information about the vaccination coverage.
Most of the vaccine systems don’t have the capabilities to capture the information on race and ethnicity or other demographic details of the recipients. This makes it difficult for governments to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines.
And, even when systems capture the data, its quality remains questionable. There have been many instances of missing data and wrong data which makes reporting incomplete, and analysis difficult.
The last big factor that is impacting analysis is the lack of data integration. Most of the immunization registries are archaic. Vaccine management systems haven’t been able to integrate with these registries or even with the electronic health records that are being used by the private provider networks. As such, the vaccination data, though getting generated daily, has remained in silos. Many states still struggle to publish the real-time vaccination information and we don’t get a true picture of what’s happening with respect to the immunization drive.
After all this, when agencies get access to the data, their use of rudimentary analytics toolsets enable them to answer only the basic questions. They can’t get into the next level and find granular insights.
Nick: Ok then, how would this integrated advanced analytics capability help state and local governments and how will it improve the effectiveness of their vaccination programs?
Suman: So far, governments have primarily focused on balancing the supply of the doses that they have been allocated with the demand that they see. Analyzing data to calculate the size of prioritized populations in their geographic areas could have actually enabled an optimal vaccine allocation strategy to maximize the throughput and minimize the wastage of doses.
Building smarter data analytics capabilities can help governments get more sophisticated intel to track community-based transmission and assess the vaccine efficacy towards herd-immunity level gain.
It can help identify the most vulnerable and super spreader groups for immediate need of vaccination and track their immunization status, for example who have been given the first dose, who are due for the next, who already got the second dose, who have been the frequent drop-outs.
There are still many people who are hesitant about taking vaccines. Data analytics capability will help the governments identify the groups or individuals with higher chances of dropping out and develop more targeted interventions.
And, as when new phases open, there’ll be more variations in the supply, demand and inventory levels, there will be more information on the adverse events from the vaccination as well. Analysis of this information will help ensure that enough vaccines are available, and that they remain safe and effective.
The virus is here to stay. These capabilities will also help model future outbreaks and enable governments to be better prepared as they share real-time health insights with relevant state, local and territorial health departments, and the respective policy makers.
Nick: Analytics is a key priority for governments but unfortunately not much progress has been made to build these capabilities. What do you think should state and local governments do to navigate these challenges?
Suman: To succeed, government and health agencies will need to integrate data from every stage of the vaccine management workflow, and from the disparate systems involved in the COVID crisis management, be it for COVID testing, be it for contact tracing, be it for treatments - whatever systems that we are using to manage this pandemic, and the data that gets generated from the supply chain.
This will allow them to generate and deliver more effective administrative, epidemiological, and regulatory compliance related insights.
To make this happen, governments will need to orchestrate the vaccine management lifecycle with expert and automated data management capabilities. These capabilities must be supported by the right data exchange formats and protocols like the HL7, FHIR, Soap, and the API libraries.
Complying with these standards will make it is easy to capture and share information with the right people at the right time.
And, when this data is augmented with advanced analytics capabilities like Machine learning, it will generate actionable intelligence which will be critical to uphold the credibility and successful execution of the COVID19 vaccine program.
Nick: One final question Doctor, how would a solution like the Infosys Vaccine Management help in closing the vaccination analytics gaps?
Suman: Well Nick, when we architected our Infosys vaccine management solution, we took this into account as a critical requirement. That’s why our platform brings two distinct modular capabilities:
A System of Insights for turn-key epidemiological insights related to high-risk target populations, analysis of adverse events, monitoring of vaccination coverage levels by geography, with respect to race, ethnicity and demographic classification of the population, help forecast inventory and track target herd immunity status.
The other module is a System of Collaboration that automates the manual processes of daily data preparation, data capture, and data integration. The module also facilitates bi-directional flow of information with the stakeholders by integrating with various external and internal systems, like the Immunization Information System, the Immunization Gateway, the EHRs that providers use and comply with the right data exchange protocols like HL7 and FHIR.
With these modules, agencies can build a trusted, consolidated, and longitudinal vaccination record of their constituents. This can provide analysts and epidemiologists with right information and intelligence at the right time. With the reconciled vaccination data and advanced analytics agencies can do all the things that we discussed before.
With IVM, or the Infosys Vaccine Management solution, being structured as a modular solution, governments can quickly deploy these analytics capabilities and the collaboration modules independently and connect them with their existing systems seamlessly.
Nick: Wow, that is a lot of great information and good to know. Thank you for joining us today Dr. Suman and for sharing your insights.
And, thank you, our listeners.
We hope you found the discussion interesting. Stay tuned as we cover the state of COVID19 vaccination efforts and provide practical insights for states to execute their COVID19 vaccination program safely and effectively.
If you have any feedback or would like us to cover any specific areas, please drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bye for now.