A brief panorama of IoT in the life sciences market
As a heavily regulated market where risk control is key, the life sciences sector apprehends innovation with a processed and careful pace.
IoT (internet of things) is no exception.
Since the concept raised to create a real hype, IoT has often been associated to consumer wearables, but has significantly transformed over the years into a major lever for corporate transformation. It now taps into large enterprise markets as it enables the development of solutions combining sensors, data, networks, and services. Hence, it is no wonder that the IoT market in healthcare is expected to grow at a 30% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) and reach $188B by 2024(1).
That said, there are many opportunities that IoT solutions can bring to the life sciences sector. But what are the key drivers that will impact this market?
We see four core macro-environmental factors that are influencing the sector and shaping the requirements for different IoT solutions.
- The world population is aging and needs innovative healthcare solutions. For example, according to the OECD, the elderly population in Europe increased by 22% from 2000 to 2017, resulting in rising demand and higher prices in the health industry. In this scenario, IoT could be a key to unlocking personalized journeys for patients.
- Disease prevention is another major priority in the life sciences industry. Current efforts in this space are mostly around standardization in the early detection of diseases and medical conditions, such as cancer (+62% worldwide between 2018 & 2030) cf. Various types of IoT wearable and embeddable IoT devices could potentially revolutionize the space.
- Home monitoring is another important aspect of the life sciences value chain where IoT can have a disruptive impact. IoT basically allows for the remote monitoring and diagnostics of patients without doctor’s visits, but still enables a personalized experience for both patients and physicians. IoT can thus reduce the on-site administrative workload, and at the same time, enhance the clinical investigator’s job.
- Spending in healthcare and the life sciences sectors is booming. Consumer habits are changing and willingness to spend on healthcare is rising. It’s no wonder that over 10% of GDP in North America, Japan, and Western Europe comes from the life sciences sector (3). This is a clear opportunity for pharma players to offer innovative healthcare solutions, and IoT could be one of the enabling technologies.
How can the life sciences sector benefit from IoT?
IoT can provide substantial value across the entire life sciences value chain, from research and development digitalization to enhancement of the patient experience.
It enables accessing new, live, and comprehensive data thanks to smart sensors, direct connectivity, and digital platforms. These three axes can be used to develop innovative use cases on the four life sciences verticals and boost operational efficiency across different processes as well as the patient experience.
Research and Development
- In research and development, IoT can be used to develop smart labs which can transform R&D with cloud platforms and precise, connected measurement tools. A variety of instruments, such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines, microspins, and pipettes can be connected to allow pharmaceutical companies to achieve many benefits.
- Scientists can significantly improve the accuracy of their measurements, easily export experiment results and share them, but also receive instant dynamic alerts if any equipment deviates from ideal conditions (for example predictive maintenance alerts).
- Connected clinical trial scan also bring substantial value to life sciences stakeholders, especially by automatizing patient data gathering using smart electronic devices (or “wearables”) for the duration of the trial. This will not only reduce the burden on clinical sites, but also improve study ROI by reducing the assessment time of transcriptions and enabling real-time access to cleaner data.
- In the production environment, a digitalized manufacturing framework leveraging connected assets can ensure drug quality compliance and process optimization.
- In the life sciences domain, drug and environment control is critical to securing patients’ safety and tackling regulatory constraints.A connected production line can help reach end-to-end visibility on the quality of any drug produced: in practice, a technician will use a dashboard to easily monitor production capabilities and identify any deviation that could affect raw material and drug integrity (pulverization, blending, granulation, etc.).
- Such new generation production sites can also help achieve paperless production and automation.Another use case is machinery optimization and predictive maintenance, by introducing specific sensors to analyze production-related metrics (temperature, vibration, rotation speeds, chemical properties oil, etc.), and identifying the most valuable usage patterns. This exercise makes it possible to improve overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), standardize any industrial process, achieve energy savings, and reduce maintenance time by up to 50%.
- The supply chain is another domain where IoT can help pharma players gather the low-hanging fruit
- Supervising drug delivery and ensuring product integrity along the entire supply chain can become a reality by deploying a range of connected sensors along the way. Such monitoring can bring numerous benefits: from real-time tracking of high value assets in open ecosystems, to cutting down waste, improved replenishment, and inventory planning.
- Vaccine industry is a key illustration : significant savings can be generated by enabling detailed traceability of products at packaging level (and not at container level) through IoT, gathering data about temperature or humidity all along the logistic chain between factories and distribution centers.Only products actually concerned by a cold chain problem or quality compliance issue will be put to waste, whereas non connected products are usually dumped at container level.
- Another supply chain problem that can be addressed with IoT can be a solution to overcome and counterfeiting during transportation as cargo can be monitored in real time.
- At the end of the pharmaceutical value chain, IoT can provide innovative services beyond the pill and help patients by providing new sets of data that can be used to develop better and more personalized treatments.
- IoT can be used to reduce the administrative burden for patients by using connected devices interfaced to appropriate platforms in their everyday life. In this way, patients can reduce their travel and have access to real-time communication with doctors, who on the other hand, can access patient data coming from wearable devices.
- By using such devices and processing the health data of their patients, companies predict potential medical issues seamlessly by transferring data instantly from IoT devices owned by patients (e.g. inhalers, pacemakers).
- Additionally, by using IoT-enabled devices, pharma players can manage patient compliance and adherence, which can be improved by leveraging the right connected device e.g. pills bottles, connected pills, customized educational content, dose self-reporting. Finally, this could positively reflect on patient engagement since, at the end of the day, they will be getting more personalized service.
What is the right approach to adoption of IoT in the life sciences sectors?
Based on our existing experience in the life sciences domain and IoT technology solutions available, we believe that companies should address five key challenges in order to successfully scale their IoT related initiatives.
In upcoming blog posts, we will examine the life sciences verticals more closely to suggest how specific industry pain points across the entire value chain can be addressed with promising technology and solutions based on IoT.
Cancer Research UK: Worldwide cancer incidence statistics and American Cancer Society – Cancer Prevention & Early Detection Facts & Figures 2017-2018)