The effective, efficient and safe transport of temperature-sensitive vaccine vials to distribution sites, along with storage and documentation of patient consumption, requires close collaboration among all parties to these processes. This makes chain of custody a major concern during vaccine logistics planning. With mass vaccination sites, there is a higher threat of blind spots occurring as vaccine shipments are broken down and distributed to makeshift locations, such as in large arenas and civic centers.
Healthcare supply chain professionals, while never before having to manage vaccination logistics on this scale, have the solid foundation of expertise and technology infrastructure necessary to successfully lead this critical supply chain effort. The patient scale is unique in a pandemic situation, but the core logistics remain the same.
Introduce Evolving Technologies with Barcoding in Healthcare
Most large health systems are already using barcode scanning technology to manage medical/surgical supplies and pharmaceutical distribution and document product use in patient care. And they have established best practices around it. This same familiar and intuitive technology can be used to overcome challenges related to vaccine distribution and administration.
Barcoding in healthcare is inexpensive, mainstream and vaccine manufacturers already print barcodes on their packages. Using barcode scanners, individuals throughout the vaccination deployment continuum can quickly scan vaccines at each unit of measure for product track and tracing down to the vial and patient level.
Vaccinating a large proportion of the U.S. population requires many different parties to come together and play a hands-on role in vaccine product management. By its nature, this raises significant risks for human error at each stage of the process. Failure to document vaccine receipt, transport, storage, usage or any other factors can result in gaps in reporting and setbacks to getting products where they are needed.
Therefore, barcode scanning protocol adherence across all stakeholders and throughout all supply chain processes is key to the success of product documentation and distribution. The only way to achieve end-to-end traceability is for all parties to use barcoding in healthcare to its full potential — from the point of manufacturing to transportation to consumption and everywhere in between.
Instant Supply Chain Information
U.S. health systems have made tremendous strides in supply chain process and technology improvements in recent years for greater accuracy and efficiency along with reduced cost and waste. While some organizations may have to make additional investments in barcode scanning and data capture solutions to optimize vaccine logistics, most have shown that they have a solid foundation of knowledge, technology and processes to handle the vaccine logistics challenges presented by the pandemic.
The process automation and electronic data capture enabled by barcoding in healthcare throughout health systems’ supply chains can serve as a best practice guide to federal, state and local government authorities as they drive strategies for safe, effective and efficient vaccine administration.