The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) POD Assist is an emergency response information system that is designed to track the administration and dispensing of countermeasures (i.e., pharmaceuticals, vaccines, and other medical material, such as personal protective equipment) to local populations, usually via Points of Dispensing (PODs) or Vaccination and Dispensing Clinics. During a public health emergency, public health agencies may need to collect and track information about countermeasures administered or dispensed to the affected population. POD Assist supports tracking of medical countermeasure dispensing and vaccine administration at both individual and aggregate levels, enabling public health departments at all levels to analyze and report data to CDC, if needed.
POD Assist began as the CDC Pre-event Vaccination System (PVS). CDC implemented PVS nationwide to track and monitor the administration of smallpox vaccine as part of the National Smallpox Preparedness Program. It was used to support the 2009 H1N1 vaccination campaign and the 2015 Ebola outbreak.
POD Assist application features are designed to help track the administration and dispensing of countermeasures during a public health emergency. These features include:
- collecting data on vaccine doses administered and dispensing of pharmaceuticals or medical equipment at clinic sites,
- receiving vaccine administration data from Immunization Information Systems, and
- aggregating and reporting doses administered data to CDC, if needed.
POD Assist is a Web-based application deployed centrally at CDC that uses CDC’s secure data access method. It can be configured by users to collect data specific to the event. It is internet accessible by using any standard Web browser and is free of charge to users. In addition, POD Assist may be deployed on a stand-alone basis to support jurisdictional operations if the Internet is not available.
During a large public health event, use of mobile devices can enable mass collection of countermeasure dispensing and inventory data at a POD. POD Assist will soon use a bring your own device (BYOD) approach that can reduce the need for funding and technology resources which may be scarce and slow to acquire during an emergency.
In addition to the POD Assist features described above, individuals can also use their mobile device to register to receive countermeasures from a POD using POD Assist. Using the registration information, POD Assist will create a barcode and display it on the individual’s mobile device. Individuals may present this barcode to staff at the POD. POD staff will scan the barcode, which will then display the appropriate countermeasure to provide to the individual. POD Assist will record the registration and countermeasure dispensed for each individual, helping to reduce the data entry burden on public health staff.
Benefits of this feature include:
- Improving efficiency of moving patients through a POD during an emergency
- Enabling near real-time data collection
- Enabling quick data sharing
- Reducing the need to purchase hardware