by Jan Grevendonk and Elaine Griffith, PATH and Anup Akkihal, Logistimo One of the perennial struggles in any supply chain is to deliver the right amount of product to the right place at the right time. This is especially true for essential medicines and temperature-sensitive products like vaccines. As the financial costs of maintaining excessive stock levels rise with the introduction of newer, more expensive products, the human cost of missing opportunities to vaccinate due to poor vaccine handling and management rises in turn. In this environment, managers need more precise tools to determine the quantity of product to store and deliver at a given point in time. Fortunately, an increasing number of tools are becoming available to help countries track and monitor consumption data at the service-delivery level. Some have been demonstrated in immunization programs, and others can be deployed relatively easily should the opportunity arise. [color=#999999][Click photo to enlarge][/color] Optimize is exploring the possibility of demonstrating a cloud-based software service called Logistimo which enables health workers to record and send consumption data, place orders, and check on the status of orders from any location using inexpensive mobile phones. At present, Logistimo is being used and demonstrated in a variety of applications both within and outside of health care. It is particularly relevant to immunization systems because it can improve reporting, inventory management, distribution, and forecasting for remote health programs by linking these functions directly to actual real-time consumption data. The tool is flexible enough to fit almost any logistic system and does not require a large software development effort. How would it work? [color=#999999][Click photo to enlarge] [/color] An intuitive user interface would allow health workers to enter vaccine consumption data directly into inexpensive mobile phones following a vaccination session. The data would be uploaded immediately to a networked system that allows managers to review actual demand and stocks at the service-delivery level at any point in time. A real-time information system prevents the practice of estimating demand based on consumption at the district or subnational level which may or may not reflect actual consumption at the service-delivery level. It also works quickly and efficiently enough to allow managers to use the data for placing and verifying orders. Based on this consumption data and levels of existing stock, health centers can place an order with the district store. District health workers can compile all orders in the district, compare them to consumption data, and ship the orders to health centers along with other essential medicines. After delivering vaccines, the district health worker can create an accurate order for resupply from the national level. Why is the last-mile so important? All levels of the supply chain are designed to support a service at the endpoint of the chain. Information from this endpoint is therefore useful to ensure that the supply chain as a whole is delivering effectively. An information system that tracks consumption data can enable each level of the supply system to make evidence-based decisions using accurate, real-time information on availability of vaccine at different levels of the supply systems. Such a system can also track historical vaccine distribution patterns (seasonality) and trends to improve forecasts. Another significant advantage with a service like Logistimo is that there are no costs to the country on software development. If the system works, it can easily be scaled countrywide, requiring only 15 minutes of training to produce quality, actionable data, and one to two hours of training to use the web-based dashboard’s intuitive features such as maps, graphs, charts, and tables. In addition, information systems which use mobile phones instead of computers are much more accessible financially and technically in remote areas. To inquire about Logistimo, please contact [email@example.com]Anup Akkihal[/email]. To inquire about other last-mile logistics solutions, please contact [firstname.lastname@example.org]Jan Grevendonk[/email]. We encourage your questions or comments. Please click reply at the bottom of the page.