Free Swittons For Pharma Reps & Physicians During Pandemic Situations

Coronavirus spreading by handshake

We are dedicated to servicing the needs of our local and global communities in times of need. As a provider of remote technology, we are offering FREE Swittons (a P360 company) remote technology, so your pharmaceutical organization can maintain critical communication pathways with key physicians, especially in times of crisis.

Our Swittons device shown below is a smart device for pharma to distribute to physicians to facilitate remote communication, at the press of a button. In normal circumstances, the device augments the rich (and sometimes face-to-face) relationship between the rep and the healthcare provider.

In pandemic situations, devices such as Swittons can facilitate communication and ensure business continuity, while keeping your sales representatives out of the hot zones of hospitals and physician offices.

Swittons for the Coronavirus

During this time of global pandemic impact and protective travel restrictions, we are working to help key healthcare practitioners maintain communication with pharma, especially regarding critical therapeutic areas. This remote communication helps ensure the continuity of business.

We want to help by providing each interested pharma company with FREE Swittons for 3 months, to use with your top physicians. This will maintain consistency in business during these difficult times, and will also protect pharmaceutical staff from high-risk exposure and further propagation.

“Swittons is working to limit exposure risk to the Coronavirus and other pandemics by eliminating unnecessary visits to hospitals and other healthcare facilities,” said Swittons CEO and Founder Anupam Nandwana. “By automating the pharma to physician relationship, our goal is that professionals working in the field of pharmaceutical sciences will not be forced to risk their own health, and will not become a serious risk factor for the spread of the virus.” 

After the 3-month period, which we hope will resolve a pandemic situation, companies that have engaged Swittons can discontinue the platform with no additional charges. However, initial feedback regarding the Swittons program indicates the platform creates tangible value with or without a pandemic issue.

Please contact us if you would like more information about this initiative: info@swittons.com

Swittons Brings First Fully Customizable Four-Button IoT Powered Solution

Physician holding Swittons device

Swittons brings the first fully customizable four-button IoT powered solution for Pharma-Physician communication to the market.

Pharma to physician engagement has dawned a new day thanks to the innovative work from P360 – the company behind creating Swittons. The world’s first fully customizable four-button IoT powered solution for pharmaceutical organizations and physicians is now available on a commercial scale.

“At Swittons, we have reimagined the world of pharma to physician communication by fundamentally changing the way marketers and sales organizations interact with customers and prospects,” said Swittons CEO and Founder Anupam Nandwana, “Our solution not only saves organizations time and money, it gives them a new digital channel of engagement for meaningful interactions. From the dashboard to devices to data, Swittons powers seamless engagement.”

Physicians standing next to each other smiling.

Swittons revolutionizes the pharma to physician relationship by helping representatives cover more territory, and by breaking down communication barriers to office visits, professional consultations and product orders. This device can also be configured for biotech and medical device sales organizations.

Swittons is designed to be compatible with existing commercial infrastructure and integrates seamlessly with leading CRM and ERP systems. This Microsoft Azure-based device can be custom branded and comes programmed to execute up to four different predefined functions.

“Bringing critical data from a device to the enterprise has never been easier because Swittons takes care of all the complex technical work,” said Nandwana.

As the cost of doing business goes up and regulations become more restrictive, pharmaceutical sales organizations are increasing their demand for innovative products that help them remain competitive.

Swittons solves the “whitespace” problem by enabling communication with physicians who were previously untargeted, because of remoteness or other reasons. The device also helps boost the launch of new brands by increasing awareness, sample facilitation and more.

Doctor checking information in computer program before filling medical card

A major early customer for the company uses the devices to increase lift in their existing strategies with physicians in the field.

Physicians appreciate Swittons because the device enables them to be in better control of their schedules. At the click of a button, they can request samples, schedule sales visits, book medical science liaison (MSL) consultations and access important medical information. Individualized preprogrammed functionality is available for the device as well.

For physicians that receive Swittons, the device comes out of the box all ready to go. All that is required is a Wi-Fi or GSM cellular connection

Nandwana said the smart devices create a physical presence with physicians that adhere to industry regulations. The devices can be used in multiple ways, depending on how they are configured. More information about Swittons for Physicians is below.

State Laws Seek to Regulate Sales Rep & Physician Interactions

Physician talking to sales rep

How Some States are Limiting Sales Rep Access to Physicians

Many states, including Vermont, Maine, and Colorado, have passed laws that regulate how drug reps can market to prescribers. Many of these laws are centered around price transparency and comparisons to generics.

These state-mandated restrictions are on top of an outright ban on sales reps visits that many hospitals and health systems already have in place.

Vermont Has Led the Way on Sales Rep Regulations

For several years, Vermont has had laws in place that dictate how sales reps can interact with prescribers during in-person visits. Vermont’s pharmaceutical marketer price disclosure has led the way, with several other states following suit with similar laws. 

Vermont’s price disclosure law requires that when sales reps market a drug to prescribers, they must disclose:

  • The average wholesale price (AWP) per pill
  • The drug’s AWP in relation to other drugs in the same class

In addition, reps marketing to prescribers in Vermont must report any marketing related expenditures they incur. The distribution of drug samples, which has long been a staple of sales rep visits, is included in these expenditures.

Pharmaceutical companies who have expenditures of any amount over $0 must report their expenditures annually. Companies reporting expenditures must pay a $500 registration fee before each state-mandated reporting period. 

Hospital Multinational Doctors Looking On Laptop.

Maine Seeks Drug Price Transparency

On an annual basis, Maine plans to publicly report prescription drug prices. In order to make this transparency possible, the governor recently enacted several bills. Pharmaceutical companies will be required to report certain drug price increases.

Unlike Vermont, Maine is not requiring that drug reps communicate this price information when meeting with prescribers. Rather, price information will be shared on a publicly accessible website, where both doctors and patients can access the information.

This means physicians will have access to certain price information whether or not they meet with sales reps. For physicians who have price concerns or questions, this may decrease their desire and need to meet with sales reps.  

Northeastern States are Pushing for Drug Importation from Canada

That fact that Vermont and Maine are requiring more transparency about drug prices is no coincidence, as both states could easily import more affordable drugs from Canada. In fact, both Vermont and Maine have passed bills approving the importation of prescription drugs.

However, both states’ plans are in limbo as they await federal approval and guidance. If Vermont and Maine are able to import drugs from Canada, marketing from U.S. drug reps could become irrelevant. 

Colorado Also Looks at Wholesale Drug Costs

While nothing is on the books in Colorado to promote the importation of drugs, cost transparency laws have been enacted. The state has enacted its own laws requiring:

  • That the wholesale acquisition cost (WAC) must be disclosed by drug reps.
  • Reps must also disclose the names and WAC of three generic prescription drugs from the same therapeutic class, when such generics are available.  
Doctor and colleague looking at medical report and having a discussion

What is the Impact of these State Laws?

While these state laws don’t outright ban sales reps from visiting physicians, the requirements do put a significant burden on drug companies. Sales reps must be trained to act in accordance with the new laws, as well as adhere to record-keeping and reporting requirements.

This is in addition to the limitations hospitals and health systems are already placing on drug reps.

In-Person Meetings are Already on the Decline

For many physicians, the days of leisurely lunches with sales reps are over. Over the last year, there’s been a sharp decrease in the number of prescribers who are permitted to meet in-person with pharmaceutical reps. 

In 2017, just over half of all practices owned by hospitals and health systems banned drug reps from visiting their doctors. Also, across all specialties, 40% of all physicians were reportedly no longer meeting with sales reps according to Healthcare Finance.

There doesn’t seem to be any regional trends when it comes to physicians being permitted to meet with sales reps.

The top three states where drug reps still had the highest accessibility to prescribers in 2017 were scattered throughout the U.S.: New Jersey, North Dakota, and Mississippi. In those three states, between 69 and 72 percent of doctors were accessible by drug pharma reps.

Doctors Overwhelmingly Favor Brief Meetings

Policy & Medicine reports that physicians overwhelmingly favor brief interactions with drug reps.

85% of physicians in 2018 said their ideal interaction with a drug rep lasted no longer than five minutes

In a five-minute meeting, discussing wholesale acquisition costs will no doubt eat up precious marketing time.

Young chinese doctor woman showing a timeout gesture.

Alternatives to Face-to-Face Meetings

Drug companies must rely on alternatives to face-to-face meetings if they want to reach physicians who are banned from meeting with reps. 

The good news is that the majority of doctors, 79%, preferred an “e-detail” over an in-person visit in 2018.

While most prescribers said they preferred electronic communications with sales reps, very few have been engaging in it.

Only 12% of physicians reported engaging in any remote forms of communication, such as an email or a phone call in 2018.

Alternatives to the traditional face-to-face meeting remain an untapped strategy. 

However, technology is proving to be a double-edged sword. While digital resources may offer sales reps a loophole in marketing to prescribers, physicians are able to easily access information on their own.

A report published by Decisions Resources Group in 2019 found that 49% of physicians said they were able to answer drug-related questions on their own.

These physicians often turn to digital resources, claiming they “never had a question for a representative that they couldn’t find answers for online.”

Doctors are using a computer and discussing.

State Laws Add to an Already Rapidly Changing Landscape

Today, pharmaceutical companies face many obstacles when marketing directly to physicians. Recent state laws are only compounding barriers put in place by hospitals and health systems.

In addition, physicians’ own perceptions are quickly changing how they view and want to interact with sales reps. 

This restrictive climate is forcing pharmaceutical companies to look at alternative communication methods to fuel sales growth. It’s clear that pharmaceutical companies must change their approaches and strategies, as they are increasingly getting squeezed out of the picture.

For more information on how to stay relevant in this changing landscape, please contact us for free below! 

How to Use Azure IoT Hub, Azure function, and Azure Cosmos DB — Walk-through

IoT is very well-known throughout the corporate world. For starters, this isn’t another IoT article where we’re going to do home automation. This is a simple walk-through about adding a server-less back-end to your existing IoT system.

We’ll touch on how Azure IoT Hub will be used as an event hub or a messaging system for “Things.” Also, we’ll cover how these incoming messages can be routed to the related database using Azure functions.

No devices will be used. We’ll be simulating our PC as a device and use node.js to connect to IoT hub and stream data. Then, we’ll see how the streamed data to the IoT hub can be routed to the DB after some logic. Doing so, by using Azure functions and C#.

Finally, we’ll see how the integration happens where we connect every component to everything.

Architecture

Architecture basic

Fig 1: Architecture basic

The above figure shows the basic architecture or flow of the system. It also should be noted that we’ll be using cosmos DB’s mongo DB API to access the database. This displays the flow of data from a device to the database using an architecture without a server.

Azure IoT hub

Azure IoT hub is essentially an IoT platform. Using this, we are going to send messages from our simulated device.

Technically, the device section of any IoT system is referred to as an edge device. From our simulated edge device, we are going to send data to the azure IoT hub using MQTT protocol.

First, let’s go over how to set the Azure IoT Hub. Head on to https://portal.azure.com and create a new IoT hub.

Azure IoT Hub - Screenshot

Fig 2: Azure IoT Hub — Screenshot

Once created, we will add a new device and name it something relevant. In this case, the name of the IoT hub is “spektro” and the name of the device is “simulatedDevice”.

To create a device, click on the IoT hub you just created and head on to the “IoT devices”, under the tab “Explorers”.

Screenshot - IoT Devices

Fig 4: Screenshot — IoT Devices

After creating the device, the next step is to write a code that will simulate the device and send some exciting raw data. For the code, we will stick to node.js. Use the npm package manager for installing the module.

npm install azure-iot-device-mqtt

After a successful installation, we can use the above dependency. Another important parameter we need to note is the connection string. This will act as a key for our simulated device.

For this, click on the device ID you just created. In this case, it was “simulatedDevice”. Once you click that, you will end up in device details.

Screenshot - Device details

Fig 5: Screenshot — Device details

From this page, you need to copy the “Connection string — primary key”. This will allow the device to communicate. Then it can be copied and pasted.

Simulated Device — Node.js

As mentioned earlier, the dependency needs to be installed. Here we’ll see how the dependency is used to stream data. Our data, in this case, will be a JSON string containing the following parameters.

DeviceID and Data

“Device id” is the one that’s created and “Data” just values varying between 1 to 100.

'use strict';

var clientFromConnectionString = require('azure-iot-device-mqtt').clientFromConnectionString;
var Message = require('azure-iot-device').Message;

function azcall()
{
	var connectionString = 'YOUR CONNECTION STRING'; 

	var client = clientFromConnectionString(connectionString);
	function printResultFor(op) 
	{
		return function printResult(err, res) 
		{
			if (err) console.log(op + ' error: ' + err.toString());
			if (res) console.log(op + ' status: ' + res.constructor.name);
		};
	}

	var connectCallback = function (err) 
	{
		if (err) 
		{
			console.log('Could not connect: ' + err);
		} 
		else 
		{
			console.log('Client connected');
			pubData();
			function pubData()
			{  
				var rand= Math.floor((Math.random() * 100) + 1);
				var data = JSON.stringify({ "device_id": "Simulated Device", "Data":rand});
				var message = new Message(data);
				console.log("Sending message: " + message.getData());
				client.sendEvent(message, printResultFor('send'));
			}
		}
	};
	client.open(connectCallback);
}
setInterval(azcall, 1500);

In the code above, we have used the function azcall() for streaming the messages after every 1.5 seconds. It’s a simple implementation of the azure IoT hub SDK which uses MQTT protocol internally. In the function pubData(), we’re publishing the data to the Azure IoT hub which is a JSON string.

The code is based on the sample provided by the Microsoft team.

https://github.com/Azure-Samples/azure-iot-samples-node

Before executing the code, we have one small step involved. We must check out the incoming messages to the Azure IoT Hub.

There’s a utility by Microsoft known as Device explorer twin. That allows us to monitor the messages. It’s a Windows C# app and can be downloaded from the below Github link.

https://github.com/Azure/azure-iot-sdk-csharp/releases/download/2018-3-13/SetupDeviceExplorer.msi

In order to use this, we need the connection string of the IoT Hub, not the Device. So head back to the Azure portal, and click on Shared access policies.

Shared access policies

Fig 6: Shared access policies.

Click on shared access policies to open the policies panel. Here we are interested in “iothubowner”. Click on it to open the policy details.

IoT Hub - Connection String primary key

Fig 7: IoT Hub — Connection String primary key

Copy the “Connection string — primary key”.

Now, fire up your device explorer tool and paste the connection string in the IoT Hub Connection string input panel.

IoT Hub device utility

Fig 8: IoT Hub device utility

Then, click on update. After the update is successfully finished, click on Data.

Monitoring messages

Fig 9: Monitoring messages

In this section, the device that you created from the portal before should appear on the Device ID drop-down. Select your device and click on the monitor.

Now, head back to the folder, where your node.js code was written and execute the code using any IDE. Or in this case, we used Windows Powershell.

Powershell window

Fig 10: Powershell window

At the same time, maximize the device explorer tool and then we’ll see the incoming messages as shown. Fig 11.

Incoming message stream to the IoT Hub

Fig 11: Incoming message stream to the IoT Hub

If everything is done correctly, the messages should appear here, which means that messages are being received by the IoT Hub. Now that we can send messages to the IoT Hub, we can write a server-less API for routing these messages to the Cosmos DB using Mongo DB API. Initially, we’ll set up the cosmos DB such that we know where exactly we need to route the data.

Azure Cosmos DB

Click below for a detailed description of Cosmos DB. Understood correctly, it’s a very informative write-up!

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/cosmos-db/introduction

Create a Cosmos DB from the Azure portal as a new resource and select MongoDB under API drop-down.

Cosmos DB

Fig 12: Cosmos DB

After your deployment is completed, head on to the DB you created. In our case for reference, the name of the DB is “spektrodb”. This Cosmos DB is based on documents and it’s unstructured DB. Therefore, we can create new documents on the run-time. We just need to create a database for now under the name of “database_spektro”.

MongoDB database create

Fig 13: MongoDB database create.

For now, we’ll leave it in this way and just copy the connection string as it will be required in our Azure function. Head on to the DB you just created and click on quickstart.

Cosmos DB

Fig 14: Cosmos DB

Keep the above data primarily to the connection string under .NET section somewhere saved locally. You may also want to have a look at the code as it’s going to be used in the Azure functions.

Azure functions

It’s like a micro-service that gets going whenever there is any triggers or requests. Here, we are interested to trigger an azure function whenever there is an incoming message in the Azure IoT Hub.

Before that, let’s create an azure function first. Head towards the Azure portal and search for azure function. In this case, the name of the function is “spektrofunc”.

Azure function

Fig 15: Azure function

Click on a new function.

Azure function -1

Fig 16: Azure function -1

Next, click on the custom function and navigate to “IoT Hub (Event Hub)”.

Azure function -2

Fig 17: Azure function -2

After that, a configuration window will open where we will configure our IoT Hub named “spektro”. You can name your function anything. We named it as “spectroIotTrigger”. Under the event hub connection, click on new.

Azure function -3

Fig 18: Azure function -3

Here, click on IoT hub and the name of the IoT hub should appear.

Azure function -4

Fig 19: Azure function -4

Click on select and finally on create.

Now, your function is ready for you to write code in C#.

Azure function -5

Fig 20: Azure function -5

Before writing the code, let’s find out how the already provided sample will work. In order to test the sample code provided, we need to click on test and logs, which is a place where the messages or errors are displayed.

Click on run and the test message should be displayed.

Azure function -6

Fig 21: Azure function -6

We can also test with our device simulator in node.js. Just execute the code in the back-end, and the messages will be shown in the log window.

Azure function -7

Fig 22: Azure function -7

Now, we can see the incoming messages in the azure function. The next task is to handle these incoming messages which will be used to publish data to cosmos DB.

Cosmos DB integration in Azure function

Before jumping off to integrate cosmos, we must include the dependencies. Adding dependencies in azure functions is a bit tricky. Click on “View files” just above the “Test” button. Then, we need to add one file named “Project.json”.

In the file, we need to manually declare the dependencies. For cosmos DB with MongoDB API, we need MongoDB driver. For handling JSON, we need Newtonsoft.json. You can also declare the .net version.

Let’s declare them using the following JSON.

{
  "frameworks": {
    "net46":{
      "dependencies": {
        "Newtonsoft.Json": "10.0.3",
        "System.ServiceModel.Primitives":"4.4.0",
        "MongoDB.Bson": "2.4.0",
        "MongoDB.Driver": "2.4.0",
        "MongoDB.Driver.Core": "2.4.0"
      }
    }
   }
}

Now, click on save and then browse to run.csx file.

Include all the necessary “using statements”.

using System;
using System.Runtime.Serialization;
using System.ServiceModel.Description;
using MongoDB.Bson.IO;
using MongoDB.Bson;
using MongoDB;
using MongoDB.Driver;
using System.Security.Authentication;
using System.Text;
using Newtonsoft.Json;

Now, save it and run the file. If there isn’t any compilation error, then dependencies have been successfully installed.

Let’s write the code for decoding and pushing data. Our target is to create a new document named after the device ID. Then the document will contain the required parameter ID and parameter values.

In this case, it will be displayed as shown: {“Data”:”12″}

using System;
using System.Runtime.Serialization;
using System.ServiceModel.Description;
using MongoDB.Bson.IO;
using MongoDB.Bson;
using MongoDB;
using MongoDB.Driver;
using System.Security.Authentication;
using System.Text;
using Newtonsoft.Json;
using Newtonsoft.Json.Linq;

public static void Run(string myIoTHubMessage, TraceWriter log)
{
    log.Info($"C# IoT Hub trigger function processed a message: {myIoTHubMessage}");
    string deviceId="",data="";
    var raw_obj=JObject.Parse(myIoTHubMessage);
    deviceId=(string)raw_obj["device_id"];
    data=(string)raw_obj["Data"];
    Cosmos cosmos= new Cosmos(deviceId,data);
    cosmos.pushData();
}

//CosmosDB class
public class Cosmos
{
    string deviceId="",data="";
    public BsonDocument document = new BsonDocument();
    public Cosmos(string deviceId, string data)
    {
        this.deviceId=deviceId;
        this.data=data;
    }
    public void pushData()
    {
        MainAsync().Wait();
    }
    public async Task MainAsync()
    {
        string connectionString = 
    @"";
    MongoClientSettings settings = MongoClientSettings.FromUrl(new MongoUrl(connectionString));
        settings.SslSettings = new SslSettings() { EnabledSslProtocols = SslProtocols.Tls12};
        var mongoClient = new MongoClient(settings);
        IMongoDatabase db = mongoClient.GetDatabase("database_spektro");
        var icollection = db.GetCollection(deviceId);
        document.Add("Data",data);
        await icollection.InsertOneAsync(document);
    }

}

The code above is the azure function written in C#. It decodes the JSON received in the string message from the azure IoT hub. A class was created to handle the MongoDB message push.

We pass the parameters through a parameter constructor and by an async call. Then, we push the data to the CosmosDB using MongoDB API. There are two options for testing the code. You can create any name for the DB.

Recall the “Test” area where there was some sample message.

Azure function screenshot for testing

Fig 23: Azure function screenshot for testing

In the test area, you can replace it with a JSON and click on run. This should execute the code with the sample input. Run a test for any errors.

Now, let’s check this with the simulated device code we have written earlier in node.js. Head on to the local folder and start the node.js code. Once it starts executing, go to your CosmosDB and click on “Data Explorer”.

Cosmos DB - Data explorer

Fig 24: Cosmos DB — Data explorer

Click on the database that was created and then on the table name which is basically the device ID. Our device ID was a simulated device as in the node.js code. After we click on documents, the JSON files appear. Click on anyone and you can check out the data.

Conclusion

We have seen how we can simulate an IoT device using node.js and send messages to the IoT hub. Finally, we route the messages into respective tables in CosmosDB based on the device ID and stream data. This has a lot of use case(s).

Let’s take an example of telematics data from a car or any machine to be sent to the DB after a certain time interval. From some kind of remote weather station or any IoT use cases where data is involved.

Now that you know the flow of data, why not comment some use case(s) which perfectly fits in this flow? The part that we didn’t cover is the use of rule engines which can be programmed in the azure function. Another topic for another article!

Curious about how Azure can impact your business? Get in touch with us today for a free consultation below on how the various Azure platforms can help you grow your business.

Top 5 Benefits of IoT For the Pharma Industry and How to Harness It

The Internet of Things (IoT) has had a massive effect on many industries worldwide. But, the pharmaceutical industry has been rather conservative in adopting technological change, so the effects haven’t been felt as strongly across the pharmaceutical and medical device industry yet.

However, the IoT has incredible potential to help pharma and device companies improve quality output, reduce costs, and even change the way that medication is delivered to the prescribers.

To help you make the most informed long-term business decision, we’re outlining the top 5 benefits of IoT in the pharma industry and how you can harness it to grow profits and improve patient relationships.

What Exactly is IoT?

The Internet of Things, also commonly referred to as IoT, is the network of physical internet-enabled devices that enables seamless cross-device communication.

Essentially, it allows all of the devices within your organization to effectively “talk” to each other, using the data that they collect and send to streamline communication and encourage smart process automation.

There are two broad areas where the IoT could have a significant impact on the pharma industry: The production and administration of pharmaceuticals.

Here are the Top 5 Benefits of IoT For the Pharma Industry and How to Harness It to Grow Your Business

A Glance at The Benefits of IoT in Pharma Production

Immaculate production and quality control measures are an absolute bust in the pharma industry. When you’re working with a potentially life-saving substance or device, anything could go wrong.

  • Leakage of a dangerous liquid or gas could harm workers or create a fire hazard.
  • An improperly produced medication can be ineffective or toxic.
  • An equipment failure can interrupt production and require a expensive cleanup procedures.

However, introducing a network of connected devices with monitoring sensors can reduce the risk of machinery malfunctions and guarantee precision production by detecting issues and making adjustments before they cause a problem.

Industrial Mechanics and Maintenance

Industrial monitoring devices are already in widespread use in the industry, but real-time status information isn’t widely available yet.

Pharma IoT monitoring sensors can instantaneously feed all relevant facility data into a single dashboard, alerting a supervisor to abnormal conditions or to necessary maintenance requirements.

Plus, they can also connect to automatic shutoffs to immediately and remotely handle critical conditions as they arise.

Material Tracking & Management

Connected devices can easily track the availability of materials in real-time, allowing for better inventory controls and reduced costs.

Tracking the source of supplies is important to maintaining quality and speed of production, and the potential risks of ingredient substitution, counterfeit medicines, or the theft of drugs can have serious consequences for a pharma company.

Pharma IoT-enabled data-gathering devices located in shipping and receiving stations can collect information from RFID tags and barcodes and correlate the information from multiple locations, including production facilities and warehouses, to verify whether data is consistent.

By signaling restocking needs when supplies reach appropriate levels, they reduce both the need to stock extra supplies and the risk of running out at a critical time in the sales process.

Supply Chain and Logistics

Tracking finished products throughout the supply chain provides enhanced control over your pharmaceutical or device inventory.

Computers that correlate the data can determine how much more production is needed and identify batches that have passed their expiration date. If a batch is recalled, tracking devices make it easier to locate and remove it from the supply chain.

Regulatory Compliance Consistency

Pharmaceutical production processes have to be well-documented to establish and maintain consistent regulatory compliance.

Pharma IoT connected devices can continuously send data to a server to establish that quality standards are met, which effectively reduces the amount of manual paperwork and potential margin for error.

Rich Insights Into Production Process Health

The information gathered through IoT connected devices can be used in more advanced ways as well.

Data analytics software can determine what areas are most prone to issues, pinpoint inefficiencies, and potential cost overruns so that improvements can be put in place to boost productivity and profitability.

Enhancing Patient Connectivity and Adherence

The second most important aspect of pharma IoT is its inherent impact on patient adherence and overall health. In this digital age, everything is technically enhanced, even prescription or OTC medications.

Smart Pills and Implanted Devices

Leading pharmaceutical companies are using smart devices to administer medications and monitor their effect on patients. This includes the delivery of medications or medical monitors in “smart pills.”

One use is simply to check whether patients, especially ones with lapses in memory, are taking their medications on schedule. If they miss a beat, it will give them a prompt reminder on their phone to help get them back on track. If they fall too far behind schedule, it can notify their physician to step in.

Smart pills or implanted devices can also detect changes in a patient’s condition. For example; if there is a serious event, such as a hypoglycemic episode, the device can immediately alert a physician or paramedic.

Couple of doctors talking and using a tablet computer

More routinely, it can inform the patient of how well the medication is working. If the effect moves outside acceptable bounds, the patient can consult with the doctor for a change of treatment.

Being on a millimeter scale, smart pills have a very short transmission range and are typically used in connection with a transponder which may be worn or implanted under the patient’s skin.

Smart Wearable Devices

A more common and often more affordable (not necessarily more effective) application of IoT in pharma is the use of dedicated mobile apps and wearable devices designed to incentivize or encourage patient adherence.

Traditional monitoring of patients relies heavily on subjective evaluations. Unfortunately, many patients don’t report any symptoms prior to needing medical attention, and they may be unable to notify anyone when a crisis hits. That’s where IoT comes in.

Woman working out measuring fitness analytics.

Real-time monitoring backed by IoT networking can detect the early signs of a serious medical event and alert the appropriate party.

Larger, external devices are already widely used to transmit ongoing data analytics and individual patient condition metrics to a remote server, where doctors and pharmaceutical company representatives are able to monitor progress and issues.

Clinical Trial Optimization

Clinical trials are an obvious application of active monitoring with IoT connected devices.

Monitoring the effects of experimental medication in real-time helps to assess its effect. It allows quicker detection of adverse reactions, reducing the participants’ risk and improving the quality of the test data.

Ingestible and wearable external IoT-connected devices can simultaneously gather data and transmit to integrated software that provides detailed readouts that paint a complete picture of the patient’s condition or issue alerts. This invaluable resource allows for enhanced processes and a streamlined optimization process no matter what your company is selling.

Doctor conducting research on a sample.

What’s In Store for the Future of IoT in the Pharma Industry?

The pharmaceutical industry is heavily regulated, and mistakes can incur serious liability which means that the entire industry tends to be a little cautious about adopting any technology. However, the immense value of integrated IoT in pharma organizations is easy to see and even easier to prove.

The addition of IoT in production facilities — what’s known as the “Industrial Internet of Things” or IIoT — faces the fewest barrier to entry. Typically, anything that provides better quality control and lowers the risk of workplace accidents isn’t likely to raise objections.

However, any device that administers medical treatment or reports patient data is very likely to fall under HIPAA privacy and strict security regulations. Unfortunately, the Internet of Things has acquired a reputation for devices with poor security, which online attackers can easily break into, and that does not bode well for the future of IoT in the pharma industry.

In the pharmaceutical industry, mistakes have serious consequences, so progress will always be slow and cautious. However, it will come. Integrating smart pharma IoT solutions into your organization will result in better production processes, decreased costs, new ways of treating patients, and a better experience for everyone concerned.

What do you think about the possibilities of IoT in the pharma industry and do you think your organization could benefit in a big way from leveraging it? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!