How a Humanitarian Supply Chain Uses Analytics to Save Lives

By Heather Gittings, Published in the Summer 2016 FedHealthIT Magazine

Last week, my 2-year-old woke up drenched in sweat. After wrestling the thermometer into her mouth, I learned that her temperature was 104.6. It turned out to be a simple ear infection, quickly cured with Amoxicillin.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to think about the logistics of refrigerating that Amoxicillin, but in many places around the world, proper storage poses a real challenge. And it’s one of many that Direct Relief*, a humanitarian aid organization, faces daily.

I recently heard CEO Thomas Tighe explain the many factors that Direct Relief must consider when mobilizing and shipping medical resources to disaster areas—for example, medicine must be stored at the proper temperature and humidity level to remain effective.

Imagine transporting goods and needing a working refrigeration system amongst the aftermath of a natural disaster?

Medical supply chains are full of data regarding inventory and logistics. The key is to extract

information from all of that data in order to deploy the right healthcare resources, at the right time.

By implementing the Qlik data analysis platform, Direct Relief is now able to connect all those different systems into one view. They can rapidly and precisely view inventory down to the individual clinic level.

“Before Qlik, our information was locked up in this impenetrable fortress. I knew it was all in there, but I just couldn’t get to it with the agility or ease needed to efficiently help people in need,” Tighe said.

When a recent earthquake hit Equador, they brought up a dashboard, and in just a few clicks were able to understand and share with the clinic what inventory would be most helpful. They can also show an individual supplier, like Johnson & Johnson, precisely where and how their donations are being used.

“We do not just a have a warehouse of documented but dormant info. We live in the data now,” says Tighe.

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*Direct Relief was named #1 Charity by Charity Navigator and CNBC and in the Top 10 Charities by Forbes, being called 100% efficient in fundraising, and Fast Company ranked it among the world’s 10 most innovative nonprofits for its use of mapping technology during the Ebola outbreak.  

About the Author: Heather Gittings is Director of Public Sector Solutions at Qlik, a leader in visual analytics. Qlik has more than 35,000 customers around the world, empowering agencies to visualize and explore information, generate insight and make better decisions. Heather leads Qlik’s government go-to-market initiatives spanning solution development, partnering, sales and marketing.

To learn more about Direct Relief and Qlik’s Corporate Social Responsibility program, visit Qlik.com/changeourworld

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