Artificial intelligence Solutions for Forecasting, Supply-chain, Quality control, and Safety.
Yes, you heard right!!
Vaccinating the global population against COVID-19 is one of the most immense distribution and logistical challenges humanity has ever faced. Some are hoping that artificial intelligence and blockchain technology can help with the task.
“This is about trying to solve the biggest data puzzle of our lifetime,” says Jason Kelley, who heads blockchain services for IBM.
So far, solving that puzzle has proved painstakingly slow. Only about 4 million people in the U.S.—just over 1% of the population—have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Worldwide, the progress is even more sluggish, with some countries yet to vaccinate any of their citizens.
The distribution of the COVID vaccine involves at least four separate but related problems:
- Demand forecasting: How much vaccine to ship where and when.
- Supply chain management: Distribution network needs to be monitored for bottlenecks.
- Quality assurance: Assuring that the batch of vaccines is legitimate and made to the correct standard.
- Adverse event surveillance: Those receiving the vaccine need to be monitored for any unusual side effects.
Given one hour to save the world, I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and 5 minutes finding the solution.” – Alber Eienstine
Thankfully, we have more than an hour to save the world!!
let’s look at the role of Artificial Intelligence and how it improves end-to-end supply chain management strategies
Demand and Supply forecasting becomes easy
By creating a common data store to get visibility of the demand, we can ensure that the vaccine blocs are delivered in such a manner with zero waste. This includes all aspects of the cycle being fed to the drug manufacturers and the logistics companies to ensure the right cargo size of drugs is shipped, and on time.
Analytics of this data, combined with additional data points from the area, could also help accurately forecast demand.
Companies like P&G, along with Amazon, UPS, Walgreens Boots Alliance, and other Fortune 500 companies are using advanced machine learning algorithms to optimize demand plans for product launches, adjust stocking strategies, and/or find optimal delivery routes.
Respond quickly to supply chain shifts
With the help of smart data, the Internet of Things (IoT), AI, and sensors along the supply chain, retailers and manufacturers are more effectively responding to changes in the supply chain.
Blockchain Technology Seen as Having Potential to Help
COVID-19 vaccine doses and related supplies need to be tracked through a chain owned by many different parties—drug manufacturers, courier companies, hospitals, pharmacies, and various branches of government.
Blockchain technology could be useful for tracking doses through the supply chain. It can track the location of every vaccine vial in near real time, and match the vial to those vaccinated with it
IBM, which is working on many Covid-19 projects around the world, markets an object-based supply chain management software. It uses its Watson Health Analytics software to match zip-code level data on demographics and health status to try to forecast demand.
Eliminating supply chain delays and complexities
Quickly identifying and addressing potential problems in the supply chain—aka “exception management”—can be somewhat of a hit-or-miss exercise.
With AI and machine learning, that multifaceted and time-consuming process is removed because they provide algorithms that work in real-time to handle the disruption.
Ensuring continuous supply
AI systems have the ability to provide autonomous supply operations where decisions about allocating materials and distributing products are being made, from active pharmaceutical ingredient shortages to temperature management.
Sensors and algorithms matched throughout the supply chain allow for real-time visibility of supply chain performance while accounting for reserves.
In the event of a natural catastrophe destroying a drug supply, for example, the system could determine the most efficient way to produce or distribute the product, as needed.
Monitors side effects
Every manufacturer developing a COVID-19 vaccine reported a small percentage of adverse reactions during the drug trials. As the FDA only approved these vaccines under “emergency use,” these side effects will likely continue. They will need to be monitored as millions more receive the vaccines to determine whether certain groups with pre-existing conditions should not receive the vaccine.
Documents containing data from hospitals, hangars, stadiums, and facilities all over the country will need to be scanned and recorded. This is an immense administrative undertaking; fortunately, it can be streamlined with machine vision “intelligent” document processing.
While our superhero healthcare professionals continue the fight against COVID-19, AI-assisted solutions could help reduce their enormous administrative burdens.
Artificial intelligence provides a massive amount of information to scientists, epidemiologists, and health workers to make future decisions that will help us to fight a strong battle against COVID-19.
The vaccine rollout can be the ultimate test for AI to showcase the breadth of time-saving and efficacy capabilities and demonstrate its full value for healthcare leaders.