Monitoring the Zika Virus Through The Supply Chain

The Olympics may be over, but using data to monitor the Zika virus is beginning.

Zika Map

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Learn more about how solutions from Qlik and Cloudera were used to better understand the Zika outbreak at our upcoming webinar 'From Big Data to Big Insights with Qlik and Cloudera' on October 5 (EMEA) and October 13 (AMERICAS). Register Now:

With the conclusion of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and all the talk about the Zika virus, I spoke to my colleague Chris Ferrara about an app we created and video we produced with Cloudera regarding Zika impact on supply chain organizations within the pharmaceutical industry last May.  I asked Chris if he could share the info in my blog post and here it is from him:

For pharmaceutical companies, producing and supplying the right amount of product at just the right time to patients around the world is critical to ensuring patient well-being.  And because they likely have shareholders, they have to do so while minimizing cost and spoilage.  When you take some time to really think about it, the complexity of accurately forecasting demand and matching the supply of the product alone will make your head hurt.  Add on top that:

  • They have to get the product to patients who are receiving treatment in more and more localized settings (e.g. personal care, nursing homes, retail locations, etc.).
  • Their products are highly sensitive and vulnerable to environmental changes during transport.
  • They need to rely on a diverse network of 3rd party partners to distribute the products.
  • They must comply with a myriad of globally varying regulations.

It leaves you wondering: how is it possible? 

Fortunately pharmaceutical companies have an ally.....information. As we all know, there’s no shortage of it, and it’s not just about the data that exists within a company’s four walls.  There’s a lot of public facing data that adds value.    

We recently worked to help a large pharmaceutical company understand how data from various sources could be used not only to predict where Zika might spread, but to then associate it with internal data so they can determine if they have enough product supply to address potential demand. 

Zika Map

Once we had enough information about the disease we enhanced the data to predict where it might spread.  We were able to bring in additional unstructured data sets including mosquito migration patterns, human travel patterns, weather conditions and even healthcare facilities (the latter to gauge preparedness to address an outbreak). 

additional data gathering

Using this information we were able to predict that areas including Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas were at risk.  After determining where the disease was likely to spread, we took a closer look at the demographics to determine the populations at risk, including high risk demographics such as women who may become pregnant.  We were then able to associate internal production capacity and inventory data to determine if there was enough product to meet the demand at fairly granular levels. 

Zika chart 

So for pharma companies who are competing to win against the big bad diseases that are out there it is information that gives them an advantage.  And when you take a step-by-step approach, you will find that even the most challenging issues can be solved, at least in part, with the help of information.  It should give us all some hope that we will have enough information to move on the offensive and protect our people.     

You can see the initial analysis in the below video.

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