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​Australian government seeks vaccine dispensary as a service

The Department of Health wants a cloud-based platform for dispensing Australia's National Immunisation Program.

The Australian Department of Health has gone to tender, seeking a provider to deliver its country-wide National Immunisation Program (NIP) via a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution.

Currently, the NIP is managed administratively, primarily using manual data management processes that require handling paper-based information and datasets from multiple sources.

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Where forecasting for vaccine requirements is concerned, the department uses an Excel spreadsheet distributed via email for completion to state and territory jurisdictions.

The jurisdictions then complete the forecasts for their areas and email the updated spreadsheets back to the central office. The central office then consolidates all jurisdiction forecasts into the master spreadsheet for delivery to each vaccine supplier.

Jurisdictions generate vaccine orders using additional Excel templates provided by the central office, which are returned either by email or fax to the relevant vaccine supplier, with a copy also sent to the central office.

Vaccine deliveries from vaccine suppliers are received at jurisdictional distribution warehouses, where staff members then complete delivery receipt certificates that record the quantities and batch details of vaccines received and, if required, the details and reasons for any rejected deliveries.

Delivery receipt certificates are then emailed to the central office.

Process invoicing also requires another email transaction between jurisdictions, the central office, and the vaccine suppliers -- three-way matching is then performed to allow payment authorisation.

According to the tender published overnight, this existing method does not capitalise on advances in technology, which "might minimise the administrative burden of managing the changes to the NIP".

The proposed solution to manage the internal administrative processes associated with the supply chain of vaccines for the NIP is to implement the Vaccine Administrative System (VAS), which is expected to be an IT solution connecting the Department of Health with state and territory counterparts and vaccine suppliers.

Specifically, health is seeking a cloud-based off-the-shelf solution, including implementation, maintenance, and enhancement, as well as second- and third-level technical support services for an initial period of three years, with two one-year contract extension options.

The solution Health is seeking is expected to provide a centralised, integrated, real-time, automated computer system for capturing information related to the supply and delivery of the NIP vaccines.

According to the tender, the system configuration function of the solution will enable the creation and modification of data relating to users, vaccine suppliers, programs, scheduled vaccinations, and vaccine products.

It is expected the SaaS solution will automate the current method for vaccine dispensing, and remove the duplication of almost everything the existing process requires.

The tender closes April 24, 2018, and the department expects the first phase of the program to commence in early August.

The department envisages the SaaS solution could be used in the future by other areas of health to manage the administrative services for other similar programs, if required.

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