Achieving Data Visibility for Health Supply Chain Information Systems

Related Supply Chain Topics
November 13, 2020
Lead Paragraph/Summary

As global health supply chains expand and become more complex, the information systems used to manage them also need to mature. The USAID Supply Chain Information System Maturity Model (SCISMM) helps countries evaluate their supply chain systems' capabilities holistically, enabling informed decision-making and timely delivery of health commodities.

Today's supply chains are increasingly complex. Global health supply chains have unique challenges due to the changing patterns of commodity flows, new demands for responsive and agile supply chains that do not compromise medicines' quality, and limited abilities to respond to exceptions, such as stockouts and expiries. As a result, procuring and distributing life-saving medication to patients in an efficient, effective and timely manner is becoming more difficult.

Information systems form the backbone of the supply chain system with a well-coordinated flow of commodities and information, which are crucial to ensuring consistent coordination across the entire supply chain by providing end-to-end visibility, agility and, more importantly, patient safety. With effective information systems, commodities can move faster, and managers can maintain visibility within the supply chain and verify commodities' authenticity.

However, not all information systems are created equal. Traditional approaches to improve supply chain information systems tend to focus on a limited number of processes--including logistics or transportation, on certain levels like central medical stores, service delivery points--or specific programs--such as health commodity groupings, like vaccines, for a particular disease like HIV/AIDS or malaria--instead of taking a holistic approach. Efficient and effective processes and systems can mean the difference between health service delivery points receiving the commodities they need or coming up short.

Two Approaches to Supply Chain Info Management Graphic

A Holistic Approach

The USAID Global Health Supply Chain Program-Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) project developed SCISMM so countries could holistically analyze their supply chain systems and plan investments in supply chain information systems. This holistic approach is overarching across all critical processes, levels, and commodity types.

The SCISMM is a guiding tool for supply chain actors, including governments, donors, implementing partners and procurement agents, to plan and strategize future investments and enhance operations' functionality. The model evaluates current capabilities or target priority areas for improvement or development, as demonstrated in its application in Nepal, Pakistan, and Rwanda.

The SCISMM was developed with core supply chain principles in mind, including the Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) model and the American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) Framework, and can be applied to any type of commodity. With the maturity model, supply chain information system capabilities--such as planning, order management, warehouse management--and foundational capabilities--like master data management and interoperability--are categorized across four maturity levels. Each level defines the extent and maturity of system capabilities. The model provides pre-requisites for each level and develops baselines and measures improvements as systems mature.

The Maturity Model in Practice

Based on a country's goals, priorities, and constraints, the SCISMM can be customized to evaluate the supply chain capabilities deployed through information systems and develop a progressive roadmap for implementing additional functionality. The roadmap can then feed into annual national plans to ensure planned initiatives receive the resources needed. For example, in Pakistan, the SCISMM identified how specific capabilities were deployed to determine which system features needed further implementation support and where new capabilities needed to be developed. Similarly, in Nepal, the maturity model evaluated gaps between ongoing and planned supply chain systems and processes. The model was then applied to the development of a tailored plan for prioritizing future information system capabilities.

In Rwanda, GHSC-PSM, working with the Ministry of Health, leveraged the SCISMM in 2019 to assess the existing national supply chain information system. This process identified gaps in attaining end-to-end visibility, including the harmonization of Product Master Data Management for health commodities with Global Standards (GS1)-based attributes. Based on this assessment, the Rwandan government prioritized foundational system capabilities, such as master data management and analytics and approved implementation of a national product catalog (NPC) for health product master data management. The NPC helps to uniformly identify health products in supply chains, enabling product tracing from the manufacturer to the health service delivery while mitigating risks from counterfeit products.

"The Supply Chain Information System Maturity Model was very useful in shaping [the] results of...public health supply chain information systems in Rwanda, said Vincent Sabagirirwa, Electronic Logistics Management Information System Technical Lead for GHSC-PSM, "which enabled the Ministry of Health to appropriately prioritize activities.

GHSC-PSM is enthusiastic about continuing progress implementing NPC across the supply chain in 2020, increasing visibility and regulatory capacity of the Rwanda Ministry of Health to implement traceability and verification of pharmaceutical commodities.

GHSC-PSM continues to revise SCISMM based on country-level perspectives and use cases. For governments, funders, and implementing partners, the SCISMM can steer investment into the most needed areas, which is critical for the resource-constrained public health sector where efficient and effective processes and systems could mean the difference between health service delivery points receiving the commodities they need.

For additional details about the Supply Chain Information System Maturity Model, please contact and

"Efficient and effective processes and systems could mean the difference between health service delivery points receiving the commodities they need or coming up short."