Ixlayer Builds Software for “Last Mile” Vaccine Distribution

A health and diagnostic testing company has repurposed its software to help state and local agencies coordinate with health-care providers manage health screenings, vaccinations and follow-ups.

A vial being removed from cold storage.
COVID-19 is killing thousands of people a day in the U.S., but from the vantage point of six or eight months ago, some would say the hard part is over. Thanks to microbiologists working in record time, the U.S. has approved vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna that are 90 percent effective, and millions of doses await distribution. Unfortunately, the federal government isn’t entirely prepared for that, and time is of the essence as the death toll climbs and states work with health officials to set up their own distribution networks before doses expire.

Fresh off a months-long effort to facilitate COVID-19 testing, the health testing platform Ixlayer is rolling out a new software tool for the “last mile” of distribution to help state and local agencies, and health-care providers, get those doses into arms.

Founded in 2017, Ixlayer has spent much of the past four years helping large health-care providers and pharmaceutical companies launch diagnostic tests or patient monitoring programs. CEO and co-founder Pouria Sanae said that experience prepared Ixlayer to branch into the public sector for COVID-19 testing, and to date, the company has supported more than 450 COVID testing programs nationwide.

The company’s new software tool is aimed at both public and private customers over three phases of distribution, starting with state governments and health departments coordinating with hospitals to vaccinate health-care workers. Sanae said the “last mile” starts wherever the vaccine arrives at a vaccination center and ends with patient follow-ups: from pre-vaccination procedures like electronic consent and health screening, through clinical staff scanning, administering and reporting doses, to post-vaccination monitoring.

Sanae said all their clients need is their own clinical staff to do the vaccination, although Ixlayer has partners who can help with that too.

“Because we’re in phase one right now, these larger customers, these government organizations, need to order the vaccine themselves, to whatever state they’re in. We don’t do that,” he said. “But we foresee even being able to help them with that in phase two and phase three.”

Sanae said the software includes three portals, one each for clinical staff, for patients to fill out a questionnaire and report adverse effects, and for administration to track which of their staff have been vaccinated. Ixlayer can set up these portals within 48 hours, and the entire program within a week.

It’s far from the only vaccine management tool on the market, as other companies including Accenture, Qualtrics and Simplus have announced them in recent months. But Sanae said his company has relationships, subject-matter expertise and past experience with electronic medical records (EMR) systems that made Ixlayer’s software ready to go.

“We have a good knowledge of the EMRs that are out there, and we know where the EMRs are lacking, both for the testing and now for the vaccination. Often EMR or (electronic health records) platforms do not have patient-facing experience … adverse effects reporting, electronic consent, those things are sort of outside their limitation, especially connecting into what we call a patient (customer relationship management system),” he said. “So based on feedback we got from the industry, and this is something that is changing on a daily basis, we modified our patient CRM to match vaccination requirements.”

Sanae has been dismayed by the federal government’s disorganization with vaccine distribution preparations so far, but he said the same thing happened with COVID testing at first, when people couldn’t even get swabs, but that got better over time.

“I really think we will hit those target numbers — a million vaccinations per day — if we solve this last mile situation, and the same thing happened with COVID (testing),” he said.

Andrew Westrope is managing editor of the Center for Digital Education. Before that, he was a staff writer for Government Technology, and previously was a reporter and editor at community newspapers. He has a bachelor’s degree in physiology from Michigan State University and lives in Northern California.
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