Inspiration

As we continue to tackle COVID-19, it is critical that we utilise data to help address some of the biggest challenges our healthcare systems face in order to effectively deliver the right equipment, to the right location at the right time. The supply chain is complex, can be difficult to navigate and in times of emergency there can be much confusion. Clearly, this can increase avoidable risk for the professionals working on the frontline in the healthcare system.

Based on World Health Organization (WHO) modelling, an estimated 89 million medical masks are required for the COVID-19 response globally each month. For examination gloves, it goes up to 76 million, and goggles at 1.6 million per month. reference

Logistics management can be a very manual process, which could increase risk to the provision of care and protection of staff. 93% of manufacturing and resources firms agree that improvements in process efficiency are more effectively driven by data insights (Source: “What’s Your Data Really Worth?” Research by Splunk and ESG, published March 2020. reference

What it does

As part of the COVID 19 response, we would like to introduce Logistics & Supply Insights. Logistics & Supply Insights will give organizations the ability to correlate a range of datasets to investigate the potential impact of specific actions/interventions, relevant to demand & capacity management, overall caseload/infection rate and others. This will give the opportunity to not only keep track of current stock levels of critical supplies, but also the ability to build out predictions of where those supplies will be needed.

With this logistics solution:

  • Logistic & Supply teams can monitor national stock levels, national statistics on COVID related cases, and make smarter decisions on where supplies need to be sent and regions to keep track of
  • Local Medical Facilities can automate the reporting of critical supplies back to centralised hubs and increase the efficiency of the supply chain, through a single portal that correlates sources from across their relevant data points.
  • Regional Leaders can collaborate and potentially share resources as they hit peaks within individual organisations.

By correlating multiple data sources into one single view, we can start to align supply & demand, with those greatest in need. By tracking the spread of COVID 19, across the country, supply chain leaders can prioritise those with the greatest need, based on the near real time data that will be presented to them in dashboards and reports.

By assembling and reinforcing a single source of truth, a digitised supply chain allows organisations to anticipate risk, achieve greater visibility and coordination across the supply chain, and manage issues that arise from complexity.

To see a detailed breakdown of what can be gained using Logistics & Supply Insights, please visit our extended demonstration here: demo

This video has been provided to show in greater detail the interface available in the demo environment and to explain in further detail some of the decisions made. The video also takes the chance to showcase the platform we would intend to use for the underlying infrastructure for managing the supply chain, noted below in the “What’s Next” section.

How we built it

This system is designed to investigate, monitor, analyse and act on data at any scale, allowing us to rapidly explore and analyse a variety of data sources and to begin to correlate supply levels and expected demand in a fictitious national hospital supply chain. Data is explored through the search interface using the Search Processing Language (SPL), and the results generated from the investigations can be visualised and shared in an easy to explore ‘application’ on the Splunk platform. Splunk Enterprise

The prototype uses open source data from the the UK NHS “Potential Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms reported through NHS Pathways and 111 online”

The supply chain related data points are fictitious and do not represent real, current or past operational scenarios.

Challenges we ran into

As with any data project, the most important starting point is finding the right data, and then finding the features within it. With the time available, we decided that building the prototype supply chain interface would be too time consuming, and instead focused on analytics that would add value.

Our proposed underlying technology for recording the supply chain in production is recorded below in the “What’s Next” section.

It was also difficult to decide what data / answers the solution should focus on. We developed a use case based on a general and open source understanding of current challenges to healthcare organizations around the world.

Managing a team remotely is never easy, especially during the fast pace of a hack. We maintained a positive outlook by hosting regular video check-ins in our team, and encouraging all our team members to spread their workload out so they could enjoy family time and the good weather to reduce stress.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

It is our ethos that “when you bring data to everything, anything is possible”. We were able to take a geographically distributed team and build out a valid tool for providing insight into multiple different data sources that we know would provide a tangible benefit to real people upon its availability.

Effective exploitation of data will be key to helping solve medical supply chain challenges across the world. We hope we have demonstrated what is at least possible.

Through the chosen platform we were able to make the dashboards mobile friendly for Android and iOS. This allows users to gain quick access to the information from any location and allows for near real-time decision making.

What we learned

  • We learnt a lot about multi-echelon supply chains; we all come from customer management and development backgrounds in software so we are far more used to distributing digital assets than tangible ones!
  • The importance of consumerization and ease of access with technology. Our market research suggested that technologies weren’t always adopted in favour of the ‘traditional’ method because the barrier of entry means the tried-and-tested methods are considered more efficient in times of crisis, even if they leave a logistics debt down the line. We need to make sure interfaces and infrastructure are intuitive and available as a top priority.
  • Productivity can be massively increased by swarm intelligence and sharing data cross-industry. Not only are we able to add value to existing healthcare supply chain data from our exposure to other industries, but the rapid insights we have supplied in our supply chain tool show how different groups in an existing supply chain (Supplier, Distributors, Local Government, Researchers, Hospital Staff) can provide their knowledge to a wider group to drive efficiencies for all levels.

What's next for Splunkers_Log_istics

Technology plays a critical role in keeping essential services functioning and delivering assistance where and when needed, especially at this time, and Splunk is committed to helping in this effort.

The lessons we have learned through this pandemic, could be used to transform the way in which we deliver patient care, and the ability to understand and normalise data can play a huge part in helping healthcare organisations do this. The actions taken now, could help us mitigate future impacts on supply chains from another ‘peak’ or another pandemic.

This would also allow regular more accurate reporting and identification of bottlenecks with enough time to mitigate and/or redirect . We can also combine this with system monitoring and baseline reporting to support strategic planning and optimise response/flow.

By managing data in a secure, integrated and near real time manner, we can help local, regional and national decision making across public health officials, local authorities and third parties at all levels.

  • Senior Executives can get real time insight into staffing levels, patient levels and stock levels across their own estate.
  • Government Ministers can have a near real time view on the situation nationally across the healthcare market, to inform their critical decision making

The ability to better understand demand & capacity levels across key resources – staff, ITUs, inpatient beds, oxygen supplies, diagnostic testing, ventilators etc. helps match available capacity to needs and to do more with the same resources. By supporting the ‘pooling’ of key resources for deployment where/when most required this will help drive operational efficiencies, and could ultimately improve care for our citizens.

To help support the health groups in capturing the data, we would work in partnership with them to build out a distributed network that could be centrally analysed. Our chosen technology would be the Hyper-ledger Fabric project. Utilising distributed ledger technology would naturally suit the multi-nodal nature of a supply chain. The chain code would reduce the time spent on manual business processes through smart contracts, and the availability of a constantly updated world state to be viewed by Splunk means that the relevant teams will always have visibility into what is going on. The underlying concept of immutability in blockchain technology enforces the security of the implementation, and hyper-ledger’s concept of channels also protects individual’s data.

This is a concept prototype only and will require further scoping and requirements analysis. The above is subject to change, agreement and contract.

Future functionality:

  • With more time and the real data we would have liked to put on the dashboards the exact quantity that hospitals were over or under stocked by.

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