From electronic record systems (EHR) to the Internet of Medical Things (Healthcare IoT), the digital revolution has already brought disruptive changes to the healthcare sector. Even bigger changes are on the way, thanks to advances in networking and in-memory computing. Powered by IoT, personalized medicine is creating new business opportunities for pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices, and patient services that will dramatically improve therapeutic outcomes. Digital disruption has the potential to unlock $100 billion in commercial value, reports Accenture. With the life sciences industry poised for change, companies that take move to capitalize on new business will gain a critical, first-mover advantage.
A more than $100 billion opportunity: Life science digital transformation
Life science companies that embrace digital transformation are shifting value within their industry. These companies successfully unlock new revenue streams by providing a substitute treatment or medication, enabling the sharing economy, converting healthy activities into currency, or setting new standards for treatment and personalized care monitoring. For example, Accenture reports that remote monitoring for Type 2 Diabetes has the potential to shift more than $100 billion in value from traditional to emerging business models.
Healthcare IoT and analytics processing are coming together to enable this digital shift. IoT uses real-time data feeds from sensors and devices to enable machine-to-machine interactions. Data is now available through remote tracking, electronic medical records, diagnostic information and hand-held personal devices. Advanced analytics processing analyses this data in real time, providing actionable insights that enhance the decision-making powers of professionals and enables patients to take a more active role in managing their personal health. These innovations are transforming not just how we care for the chronically ill, but also how we empower individual wellness and proactively work to prevent disease.
In addition to the benefits of IoT for personalized health care, IoT is also making it easier for life science companies that produce equipment or medication to proactively mitigate machine failure. This helps life sciences companies improve reliability and quality. Patients benefit from a responsive supply chain and companies benefit from efficiency gains that lower production costs.
IoT digital transformation in action: Cold chain supply for biologics and smart pills
The impact of IoT on the life science industry is significant, particularly in terms of how these businesses interact with their B2B customers and, even more importantly, their consumers. Cold chain supply for biologics and consumer smart pills are two examples of how IoT is improving therapeutic outcomes through personalized medicine.
Cold chain supply for biologics
Pharmaceutical companies that manufacture environmentally sensitive drugs face several key challenges. First, these manufactures need to improve the safety and efficacy of drug production. Second, these companies are working to reduce theft and lost drugs. Finally, these companies are seeking to reduce incidental spoilage and decrease inventory requirements. IoT tracking and sensors addresses these key challenges.
By 2020, IDC predicts that more than half of all top-selling drugs will be biopharmaceutical or biologic products requiring temperature controlled transportation and storage, usually 2–8°C, but sometimes frozen or cryogenic. This requires a huge network of time/temperature sensors in factories, warehouses, trucks, labs, and pharmacies that can monitor and send this information, for both clinical trial supplies and approved products. IoT tracking sensors and networks help life sciences companies ensure the safety and efficacy of their products in transit and in storage. Investment in cold chain IoT networks will be driven by safety and compliance concerns; these investments will also contribute to savings from lower inventory and spoilage costs.
Smart pill for personalized medicine
Health care providers struggle with prescription non-adherence, especially among patients with chronic diseases. Since patients are reluctant to tell their health care providers that they are not taking their medications, the American Medical Association reports that providers may needlessly escalate treatment. IoT powered innovations like the “smart pill” may improve patient compliance. Key benefits include maximizing drug effectiveness, reducing medical costs due to improper drug usage and decrease incidental spoilage and supply chain waste.
The Proteus pill by Proteus Digital Health contains a tiny ingestible sensor that can communicate to a wearable patch on a patient’s skin when the pill has reached the patient’s stomach. The patch then sends a status update to a mobile device. The technology can be helpful for conditions where adherence to taking prescriptions has traditionally been poor. Related technology includes “smart” pill bottles that can send signals to portable devices when opened or altered, thereby improving safety and reducing fraud.
Three steps to prepare your life science company for digital transformation
Innovate or be left behind: digital transformation is contemporary imperative for today’s life sciences companies. Whether a scenario can be implemented now or in the future, your company must have the right technology and IT infrastructure in place. Otherwise, your company risks losing out on first-mover advantage. These three steps will position your business for success:
- Conduct a risk-benefit assessment. Define strategic and tactical goals, including high-level benchmarks against key industry competitors, both traditional and emerging. Align efforts with customer needs, key business goals, and the likelihood of market disruptions.
- Be “digital ready.” Start modernizing systems and business processes in alignment with future opportunities.
- Form strategic partnerships. Identify the partnership ecosystem that can best support your business on its path towards digital transformation.
Taking these steps today will prepare your life science company to capitalize on the disruptive IoT innovations that are essential for the next generation of personalized medicine.
Mandar Paralkar / D!gitalist Magazine / January 26, 2018