Last month, Microsoft announced that its employees would continue to work from home until July next year given the evolving conditions under the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, with multiple vaccines for the novel coronavirus approaching FDA approval, the tech giant has released a few guidelines for potential vaccine management platforms.
With unique distribution challenges such as prioritization, phased eligibility, cold-chain storage supply, and fair allocation on the horizon, the need to identify some must-have elements in a vaccine management platform has been deemed significant by Microsoft. These include:
- Purpose-driven solutions designed for a fair, equitable, and efficient procurement and distribution of the vaccine.
- Comprehensive use cases that support cold chain supply chain management, patient/provider/clinic registration followed by a phased vaccination scheduling and management with forecasting tools. The platform also needs to enable automated reporting to local, regional, and national agencies related to vaccination progress and capture of potential side effects from the vaccine.
- Leverage existing data systems and interoperability standards to facilitate rapid implementation at the lowest cost. By leveraging interoperability standards such as HL7/FHIR, clinical data can be shared in a scalable manner.
- Security, privacy, and compliance are non-negotiable characteristics of any platform used by public sector and health entities.
Dr. David Rhew, Microsoft's Worldwide Chief Medical Officer, commented on the importance of such a platform, noting:
"The goal is to enable a fair, equitable, and efficient distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. In response to this urgent need, we need a secure and interoperable platform that balances the complexities of the registration, scheduling, and supply chain distribution, with the broader public health mission to deliver a safe and effective vaccine in a prioritized manner."
Microsoft has also outlined the significance of partnering up with different healthcare organizations to ensure that the upcoming challenges can be met. Committing to equip governments with any resources that may be required, the Redmond firm hopes to make COVID-19 vaccines widely availably and accessible to those in need.