Vaccine management analytics: Will it be the next 2021 data story?
Editor's note: This article originally appeared in Forbes.
By Srinivas Kosaraju, Senior Director, Public Sector, Solution Engineers, Tableau
As the world enters the second year of the coronavirus pandemic, actionable data insights are more critical than ever. They’re even being prioritized in the new National Strategy for COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness alongside executive orders to evaluate progress, monitor outcomes, and support transparency and equity with Americans. As the world rolls out COVID-19 vaccines, the need for accurate and timely vaccination distribution and uptake data is top-of-mind for government leaders, public health organizations, and healthcare providers everywhere. These metrics are foundational for managing vaccination programs, measuring their effectiveness, and determining our collective progress towards "a blanket of herd immunity," as described by Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Chief Medical Advisor for the Biden Administration.
This is a “wartime effort” as we’ve heard national leadership state recently to protect population health, particularly the most vulnerable, contain the virus as we lower case counts toward zero, and restore Americans’ trust with different discourse. By creating public performance dashboards for more transparency and accountability, and prioritizing a data-driven approach in the efforts and decisions of federal, state, and local governments, vaccine management analytics is already THE data story of 2021.
Vaccine management analytics in the spotlight
Effective management of any vaccine distribution program requires a holistic picture of the vaccine supply chain, the populations being prioritized, the success rate in reaching those populations, and the strengths and weaknesses of the metrics used to measure progress and performance.
On the path to recovery, government leaders, the public and private sector, and healthcare providers have realized that vaccine administration and management is a complex, evolving process. Expecting we could implement it overnight with a one-size-fits-all approach was unrealistic—some may say foolish—and we must ask some of these important questions as we press forward.
- Where is the greatest vaccine reluctance based on rate of spread and case count?
- How do we prioritize population groups for immunization and maintain equity?
- What level of awareness and understanding exists around vaccine safety and efficacy?
- How does vaccine supply match demand?
- In which direction are immunizations tracking and impacting COVID spread?
- Are vaccine sites known and sufficiently equipped and staffed?
As we create the path to normalcy, with increased access, use, and communication with data and analytics, we can elevate our national and local pandemic response and make better vaccine management decisions that have a national and global impact.
For several months, I’ve conversed with government leaders and health officials, considering their concerns and questions and discussing how data analytics can assuage them. With those engagements top-of-mind, I’d like to highlight:
- Some effective vaccine management dashboard examples that states are leveraging for their needs and situations
- How some states are using data and analytics to achieve positive outcomes
Using data to guide COVID-19 vaccine management
The national vaccine effort is one of the greatest operational challenges America has faced. As we prioritize data and visual analytics in our response and resolution, our learnings can help frame how we approach future events and crises. The dashboard examples that I’ll share, containing sample data, demonstrate how data informs vaccine management, but the same analytics principles and approach could be applied to management of other national challenges.
Tracking performance against vaccine goals
Do you need to pivot local attention to track down more vaccines or other treatment supplies? Are mortality rates on the rise, unexpectedly? Is there a certain community that needs increased attention? Do we need additional marketing and public outreach to overcome vaccine reluctance and hesitancy? These questions and more are weighing on the minds and hearts of our leaders and public health officials and can be explored through solutions like a performance management dashboard, shown below.
By tracking performance in this way, it’s easier to take a snapshot of local progress to see if a state will meet, exceed, or fall short of vaccine goals. It is also an effective communication tool for governors, mayors or county executives to be transparent with constituents and the public in their briefings and updates.
Furthermore, with increased plans to expand vaccine manufacturing and purchases, and improve national allocation, distribution, administration, and tracking, there will be more data for government leaders to capture, monitor, and share for a clearer sense of how localized efforts impact national goals, benchmarks, and reporting.
Assessing the readiness of facilities to administer vaccines
This dashboard reflects the readiness of mass vaccine deployment across cities, counties, and states because hospitals, medical clinics, pharmacies, and other locations have fulfilled administration requirements.
Sample vaccine management dashboard. Contains sample data.
Monitoring COVID-19 spread in communities
With data and analytics, communities can assess resources, know when to order supplies, determine vaccine administration, and help leaders understand where to focus their efforts. The sample dashboard below is one example of this, providing a high-level view and giving the option to drill into certain areas to understand where numbers are higher or lower and determine the best course of action.
Sample vaccine management dashboard. Contains sample data.
Vaccine management analytics in action, creating benefit in local communities
Each week brings new problems that sometimes compound into more complex problems, so “We can’t take any chances and need to put data to the test,” explained Anthony Young, Senior Manager, Solution Engineering, US Public Sector at Tableau Software. After nearly a year of capturing, analyzing, and determining where we can gain insights from COVID data, using a data-driven approach with vaccine management will continue to create positive outcomes such as:
- Improved patient engagement and understanding of their vaccination responsibility so they successfully follow through with immunization.
- Clearer, more direct, and proactive communication with stakeholders.
- Increased public transparency so people are confident they’re receiving good, truthful data.
- Improved management of vaccination workflows and operations based on demand and need.
- More equitable vaccination through better population prioritization.
- Improved tracking and monitoring with populations of interest.
Two government agencies are tracking, analyzing, and putting data to work in their own pandemic responses as they focus on keeping citizens informed, engaged, safe, and healthy.
- The Ohio Department of Health published a dashboard, built by the Department of Administrative Services’ InnovateOhio Platform, to keep citizens informed about current trends, key metrics, and its forecast for how mitigation policies will reduce strain on the healthcare system.
- The Lake County Health Department (LCHD) in Northern Illinois is tackling vaccine orchestration as they promote resident health. Together with partners, LCHD launched Lake County AllVax Portal, an online vaccine registration and management system, as a single source of truth for the community to track inventory status, spot trends, pinpoint catalysts, and inform vaccine resource planning.
“Transparency matters and data and analytics will combat disinformation, providing the source of truth when citizens need it most,” explained Graham Stroman, my colleague and Vice President of Sales, U.S., State, and Local Government at Tableau Software. Let’s continue to make data analytics a central tool and effective mouthpiece in our COVID-19 efforts as Americans anxiously await a return to normalcy.
Let’s rise to the vaccine management challenge with data and analytics
March 2020 was more than a year ago and so much has changed. Could we ever imagine that this is where we would be today? New terms are part of our everyday language: contact tracing, flatten the curve, and social distancing. Just like putting on shoes and brushing our teeth, hand sanitizing and putting on masks are part of our daily routines.
Problems have grown and compounded, but innovative solutions, powered by data and analytics, have emerged to solve them and support better decision-making and action. I urge the public and private sector, our government leaders, and public health officials to continue looking for ways to lead with data.
To learn more about vaccine management analytics and how Tableau or other resources can help you visualize key insights to create a data-driven, effective vaccine response, visit the vaccine management resource page on Tableau.com.