1st place submission in the SCAN Health Virtual Business Case Competition 2021 by Mara Henke, Jacob Mathei, Romen van den Boom & Ymke van Warmerdam from Maastricht University (the Netherlands)

Executive Summary

Identifying the Problems

COVID-19 has drastically changed every aspect of the world as we know it and continues to do so. As the situation seems to change by the hour, it would be insensible to hold on to our presentation as given last December We still believe that the previously provided solutions are the key to solving the issues regarding PPE, but they are also extremely relevant to resolving the vaccines’ distribution challenges. As shown by our analysis of the current challenges (appendix A), it is crucial that the vaccine’s distribution is efficient and swift, since it evidently leads the way out of this crisis In the following, team Falcon will show how their preceding recommendations apply to the distribution of the vaccine, without disregarding the importance of PPE supply in the current situation By leveraging technological capabilities and enhancing knowledge sharing between jurisdictions Canada’s healthcare supply chain can be transformed to be prepared for any crises to come.

#1 Consolidation: The first solution focuses on increasing PPE capacity as well as overall supply chain transparency and consists of two components the ‘Elevate local’ strategy and the Shared Health platform 2.0. The ‘Elevate local’ strategy concentrates on increasing and stabilizing the amount of Canadian PPE suppliers by offering them long term contracts and government grants. Secondly, the solution aims to extend Ontario’s COVAXon system for vaccine administration to elderly homes and indigenous communities and advance the existing Shared Health platform to further increase efficiency and cooperation among the regions. The Shared Health platform 2.0 provides a hospital and nation wide inventory overview for PPE as well as an integrated patient vaccine matching system. The data behind the platform will be a hybrid blockchain, with a public and private domain, in order to protect confidential data and still provide the highest form of transparency. Moreover, it features the RPP Marketplace to easily exchange PPE inventory between hospitals and individuals and vaccines among jurisdictions, and Co CARE, a knowledge sharing platform that will be explained later.

#2 Transparency: When it comes to improving supply chain processes, leveraging data is indispensable. Especially when fighting a raging pandemic, ignorance costs lives. Collecting data alone, however, is not enough. Data needs to be leveraged into creating transparency along the supply chain. Bringing data together through a supply chain mapping tool allows for visualization of supply chain processes and the creation of transparency. As highlighted in our presentation in December, supply chain mapping can be utilized to enhance the supply of PPE, anticipate possible disruptions and prevent PPE shortages. Supplying vaccines to every single Canadian and ultimately the whole globe is currently our most reasonable option to beat COVID-19 as it effectively helps to prevent the spread (Government of Canada, 2021). The distribution of the vaccines simplify some supply chain processes while complicating others. The limited number of suppliers makes it easier to locate the source of the vaccine, while the specific cooling requirements add complexity and pressure along the supply chain. Therefore, absolute transparency along the supply chain, which can be achieved through advanced supply chain mapping, supply chain simulations (SCS) and stress tests, is vital. SCS allows us to create a digital twin of the current supply chain and anticipate disruptions, bottlenecks and stockouts. This integrated system can optimize network designs and strengthen inter site product flows. The SCS helps us to depict how supply chain elements interact and test what optimization strategy has the highest impact ("anyLogistix Supply Chain Optimization, Simulation Design Software Tools", 2021 Bovermann 2021). Creating absolute transparency along the health care supply chain of Canada is vital for effective, fast distribution of the vaccine as well as ensuring the supply of PPE Supply chain mapping does not only have great effects in the short term but can be utilized to prepare for any future crises to come.

#3 Synergy: Our third strategy focuses on stakeholder engagement and connects centralized and decentralized jurisdictions on Co CARE, a knowledge sharing platform integrated in the Shared Health 2.0 platform Knowledge sharing has proven to be critical in the production process of the vaccine, but it’s also highly relevant in other scenarios. Originally designed to facilitate the transfer of codified knowledge and best practices, the Co CARE platform can be used to share efficient vaccination procedures and coordinate the future export of remaining vaccines. Moreover, health professionals can discuss symptoms and treatment plans for common side effects of the vaccine. When all jurisdictions collaborate, the platform can not only save time, but it also has the potential to save lives.

Finances: Turning to the funding model of our proposed solutions, we calculated the costs of the projects against the cost savings in healthcare expenditures. This resulted in a return on investment (ROI) of 1.847. The ROI of 1.847 implies that the investments are not only contributing to patient safety outcomes as mentioned earlier, but also result in cost savings in healthcare expenditures. In Appendix B, a detailed outline of the
total cost structure will be displayed. Due to using fewer resources, more efficient distribution of PPE, faster vaccination, synergy effects, time saved and an increased healthcare workers engagement, we assume that at least 0.005% of total healthcare expenditures can be saved using our strategies. Since there are higher yearly savings than costs for licenses, implementation costs and other expenditures, additional funding will
not be necessary. Furthermore, the current calculation of cost saved does not include the positive economic impact of possibly loosening restrictions earlier. However, when distributing the vaccines more efficiently, this could result in a shorter lockdown, leading to a higher ROI than mentioned above.

Timeline: When it comes to implementation, it is important to acknowledge that the strategies will have a short term and medium term outlook (Appendix C). The first required steps are the roll out of CoVaxOn ensuring transparency in the supply chain and advancing the existing platforms. After this initial phase, data can be consolidated, stress tests can be integrated and learning communities should be facilitated. Finally,
continuous monitoring and testing will be needed.