The world relies more on technology each day, and data is the root of this progress. It has been a consistent aid throughout the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. However, without the right integrity, things can fall apart. The supply chain can become vulnerable and systems can be compromised, which cannot happen during the vaccine rollout.
Now more than ever, updating and securing data practices is essential. For the health care and pharmaceutical industries, proper integrity could be the difference between life and death for some patients.
Data is the underlying force that drives health-based industries. It influences decisions, testing, procedures, treatments, medicine, and vaccines. It facilitates approval and effectiveness of treatments for illnesses of all kinds — most prominently, data propelled several COVID-19 vaccines into the limelight. The supply chain is under immense pressure as they are distributed.
Supply chain workers need better ways to share information, record transactions and changes, visualize information, and keep workflow efficient and fast. Adding to these pressing data integrity issues, proper management requires storing the vaccine vials in the right conditions so they don’t expire. The data must then reflect these conditions to protect the patients that are getting the doses.
Without proper protocols and management, systems and industries become vulnerable. Phishing scams arise, and hackers have easier access to manipulating and stealing sensitive information or even the vaccines themselves. The high demand for doses and the massive population sizes throughout the world add urgency for better data integrity.
An OpsClarity report shows that 92% of companies are planning to boost their investments in data solutions. This increase undoubtedly coincides with the increased criminal activity on the internet, like scams, malware attacks, and breaches. This can’t happen when governments and pharmaceutical companies worldwide are trying to keep the COVID-19 virus from taking more lives.
Vaccine and drug data integrity is crucial in the clinical stages of development. For instance, the world has never seen such a fast vaccine development as for COVID-19. Funding has made it possible, but so has data. For example, it helped scientists know that allergic reactions from the vaccine are extremely rare.
Conversely, data also shows when health care developments can be dangerous. Scientists in India have been pushing back on vaccine approval due to the lack of information. They state that since the consent does not consider phase three clinical trial data, the government should not have approved it. For now, the vaccine remains for restricted-use only.
Powerful data can save lives, but a lack of it can put people at risk. Pushing systems and protocols to the next level is the solution.
Cyberattacks of all kinds are likely to increase from here at a volume of 20%-40% overall. Phishing scams are targeting people with false information about the vaccine, and breach attempts will continue.
Based on the obstacles, the solutions are clear. First and foremost, better data efficacy requires smoother transitions across sources, like through the supply chain. Health care providers need to know exactly who handled the doses, what conditions they were in, and where the vials were every step of the way. Seeing this information boosts transparency and reduces outside interference.
Better end-to-end encryption is also necessary. Both in-facility and during transfers, workers must encrypt data to prevent breaches or theft. Similarly, only a certain number of people should have access to sensitive information. This will limit the likelihood of a violation.
Taking these precautions will immediately create a better dynamic for data during and after the pandemic. Data isn’t going anywhere, especially as people increasingly rely on it throughout the pandemic. Improving its integrity is the best path from here.
As the COVID-19 vaccine continues to become available worldwide, data will ultimately make it safe and effective. Improving the processing and handling of it should be a priority both during and after the pandemic.
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