Scientific Technologies Corporation has announced the release of a new open source Web service for forecasting vaccine supplies. The service, called ImmuCast, will help U.S. public health entities plan how many vaccines to stockpile for influenza and other public health requirements by integrating with electronic medical records databases.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), immunization supply needs are typically forecast using a model that predicts future supply needs using the previous year’s demand. However, basing demand forecasts on the prior year doesn’t always take certain factors into account.
Poor storage practices, inappropriate vial sizes and inefficient stock management can be chronic problems in some areas of the world. To improve demand forecasting, the WHO sends representatives to visit countries that typically have large discrepancies between their anticipated demand and their actual purchases.
Certain factors cause marked increases in demand for immunizations. Introducing a new vaccine into the Epidemic Information Exchange can create increased demand, and vaccine demand also tends to accelerate at both the beginning and the end of an immunization cycle.
Of course, demand also accelerates during outbreaks. In those cases, if vaccine manufacturers cannot scale up production to meet global demand, then the WHO, in coordination with other countries, has to alter its disease control policies.
STC has a history of helping public health entities forecast immunization demand using its forecasting algorithm. The company currently has a client base of 11 states, which includes 22 million individuals and 246 million immunizations. The open source nature of ImmuCast makes it an affordable option for cash-strapped organizations.
“As interoperability between public health and clinicians continues to expand in support of preventative medicine, it is even more critical that accurate information is being shared,” explained STC president Todd Watkins. “We are excited to make Open ImmuCast available to the public health community who may not otherwise be able to afford it.”
On top of its Open ImmuCast offering, STC is giving organizations that want to outsource forecasting some additional service options. Services include both phone and Web access to the STC help desk and to forecasting experts and onsite support for integration, deployment and training.
Edited by Brooke Neuman