April 23, 2018 — Public health experts at the Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at Johns Hopkins University and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) has released their HERMES (Highly Extensible Resource for Modeling Event-Driven Supply Chains) supply-chain modeling software for public use. The user-friendly HERMES software will enable decision makers and other stakeholders to analyze supply chains of vaccines and other medical supplies to make them more efficient and reliable.
All too often, life-saving vaccines are not reaching people who need them, according to Jay DePasse, PSC’s Director of Public Health Applications. Bottlenecks, stock-outs, power outages and vaccine wastage occur when a vaccine supply chain isn’t fully functioning. Without the ability to properly measure and analyze the system of a given vaccine supply chain, malfunctions will continue to impede the delivery of vaccines to target populations.
Understanding how the various components of a vaccine supply chain interact with each other is critical to evaluating the logistics of a supply chain, identifying the root causes of issues and formulating sustainable solutions.
HERMES is a software platform that allows users to create a model of a given supply chain in order to better visualize and understand the complete system. Developed by members from the GOPC and PSC, HERMES serves as a “virtual laboratory” for users to evaluate a supply chain and test the effects of implementing different potential policies, interventions, practices and technology changes all with the safety of a computer before trying in real life.
To date, the HERMES team has used the software to create vaccine supply chain models to help decision makers in a wide range of countries such as Niger, Benin, Senegal, Chad, Kenya, Mozambique, Thailand, Vietnam and India. Potential policies and interventions ranged from assessing the value of using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, to transport vaccines in Mozambique to modeling the economic and clinical impacts of heat-stable vaccines in various countries.
The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is a joint effort of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. Established in 1986, PSC is supported by several federal agencies, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and private industry, and is a leading partner in XSEDE (Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment), the National Science Foundation cyberinfrastructure program.