Nowadays more than ever, the traditional life science manufacturers need to deliver innovation that improves patient outcomes. It is not only about new drugs or treatments. The key question is how to use the cloud technology and Internet of Things (IoT) in order to connect the manufacturer with the medical devices and patient monitoring devices and what kind of value added services the industry can offer to the end users.

Automation is not new to the life sciences industry. However we can see that the industry is shifting from selling products that connect with end users to selling services.  That’s why there is a strong interest in the IoT in the pharma and medical devices industry. I have attended events organized by companies like Oracle and SAP and can assure that those companies are seeing this as a huge business opportunity in the Life Sciences segment. I have mentioned below some of the possibilities companies like these are starting to explore.

Products: one of the challenges, especially for biological products, is to maintain a stable temperature over the whole distribution chain from manufacturer to wholesaler, via logistic partners and in the hospitals and clinics where they are dispensed to patients. Sensors and data capture using an IoT platform can represent a huge gain in terms of workflow, analytics and problem alert.

Clients: the collaboration with hospitals and clinics is very important to monitor and record data from medical devices and products and enables the industry to address and prevent problems. Using a technology platform enables immediate patient recognition and could ensure that the correct treatment is being used. The challenge here is to have an updated technology platform, usable in all devices through the hospital or clinic, and able to collect the patient data correctly.

Processes: process validation is essential for clinical trials and also to ensure manufacturing of quality drugs. It scientifically establishes that the process is adequate and ensures consistent delivery of quality products while responding to the life sciences’ industry’s need for constant monitoring of these processes. Product recalls normally have serious cost implications. An IoT platform connecting the lab management system with the instrumentation devices along the manufacturing line can help analyzing and improving business processes and this technology seems to become more robust than previous automation platforms.

People: one additional challenge and also an opportunity is about people. Do we have enough people in the life sciences businesses that can connect the dots and use the digital technology applying for a new range of value added services? I believe not.  Some IT companies are developing IoT and other tech platforms to create services for the life sciences business, but we executive search professional also see growing interest of clients to bring in executives from IT companies and have this kind of knowledge “in house”.

Those are just a few examples but there are several other possibilities related to medical imaging, infusion pumps, drug dose personalization, clinical trial controls and analysis and so on. The digital world is boosting the market and bringing a new wave of opportunities for value added services to the life sciences industry.

Bernardo Entschev M.D.
Head of Life Sciences Practice