In many places, access to affordable, expedient, and adequate vital medicines and medical supplies is insufficient. Governments around the world have been making strides in recent years to improve access to reliable medical supplies and are seeking innovative solutions. At Zipline, we believe that reliable, equitable, and timely access to medical products can transform healthcare systems and significantly improve health outcomes.
Zipline partners directly with governments to improve medical supply chains and health outcomes. Zipline operates10 distribution centers across Ghana, Rwanda, and the U.S. and will be launching operations in Japan, Nigeria, Kenya and Cote D’Ivoire during 2022. In total, Zipline serves approximately 40 million people that seek care at nearly 2,300 health facilities and has distributed over five million vaccines, including over one million COVID-19 vaccines in Ghana.
Zipline’s Investment in Research and Data-Driven Operations
We’re always striving to understand where and how we are impacting and benefiting communities, and how we can improve. In order to test our theory of change — that reliable, equitable, and timely access to medical products can transform healthcare systems and significantly improve health outcomes — we’ve invested in a robust monitoring and evaluation (M&E) function, including real-time supply chain performance data, rigorous scientific studies, and routine M&E on our impact on population health. We use data to make decisions, quantify our impact, identify areas for improvement, and strengthen our operations.
Real-Time Supply Chain Data: Zipline’s warehousing and fulfillment systems automatically capture supply chain performance data providing comprehensive supply chain visibility and supporting informed decision-making by Zipline and our partners. Our real-time data system tracks facility ordering behavior, stock positions, stockouts and Zipline’s delivery performance, supporting 100% accurate track-and-trace of all commodities in Zipline’s custody. This real-time data facilitates:
- Effortless stock and consumption tracking
- Improved forecasting and planning accuracy
- Reduced safety stock requirements
- Visualization of gaps in coverage or utilization of points of care
- Identification & investigation of epidemiological events or pandemic spread
Scientific Studies: Two scientific quasi-experimental studies have been published in the last month measuring Zipline’s public health impact.
The first, assessing access to blood products in Rwanda, is an independent study commissioned by the Rwandan Biomedical Center (RBC) and published in the Lancet. Investigators show that Zipline’s service resulted in a 67% reduction in blood wastage in the country, contributing to greater access to this life-saving product.
The second study was undertaken by IDinsight and Zipline in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service and Ghana Ministry of Health, and was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Concurrent with our launch in Ghana in 2019, we partnered with IDInsight to conduct this evaluation. Study findings, published this month, found that Zipline is increasing health access and equity across the health system in several ways:
- A patient at a Zipline-served facility is 42% less likely to miss an opportunity to be vaccinated due to a stockout than at non-Zipline facilities.
- Vaccine stockouts are 60% shorter at Zipline-served facilities than non-Zipline facilities.
- Zipline-served facilities stock 10% more medical products than non-Zipline facilities.
- 92% of facility heads reported that Zipline’s services are very convenient
In addition, Zipline was shown to contribute to greater health equity, with the service used more frequently and with greater impact where the need is most significant. For example, in the most rural and remote areas of Ghana, Zipline-served facilities saw 62% shorter vaccine stockouts, and a 100% increase in facilities stocking all mandated products.
Ongoing Impact Assessments:
Building on the results of these first robust external evaluations, we are conducting studies across the markets we operate in to further evaluate our impact on health outcomes. We currently have research protocols investigating aerial logistics’ impact on maternal health, vaccine-preventable diseases, malaria, and emergency outcomes, with results expected this year. We are also actively building internal systems for routine M&E, and working with all of our partners in new markets to gather baseline administrative data to leverage in future studies.
Zipline is at an exciting stage of growth. With our ambitious aim to build the world’s leading instant logistics system that transforms the way goods move and serves all humans equally, Zipline is rigorously assessing its impact, identifying ways to better serve communities, and collecting quality data to inform our decisions and scaling path. Always aiming to do better through our data-driven operations, we are excited about the next steps, and look forward to continuing to share our findings and lessons along this journey.