Case studies

Applications of IoT in the pharma industry

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Novartis and Amazon’s AI-powered manufacturing supply chain systems

In 2019, Novartis collaborated with Amazon to use its cloud-computing unit, Amazon Web Services (AWS), to create Novartis Insight Centers. Novartis Insight Centers can forecast medicine production and detect possible bottlenecks. It also offers recommendations in order to make necessary adjustments that can improve accuracy.  

The AWS IoT services enable drugmakers to perform visual inspections on their manufacturing sites by analysing the generated images via computer vision algorithms. This allows them to monitor manufacturing production for risks including delayed orders and unplanned downtime. It enables the collection of quality, inventory, and production across its network using AWS to gain visibility and improve efficiency by applying AWS IoT, analytics, and ML to the collected data. Moreover, Novartis can perform interpolation in real time to facilitate predictive models by enabling data forwarding to an IoT-optimized time-series database through the AWS IoT Core and IoT analytics. 

Novartis’s manufacturing site metrics were already centralized into a traditional Hadoop-based big data platform, which was having issues related to operational decision-making as the operational reports were based upon fixed datasets that could be out of date. This batch mechanism could not be scaled based on the business’s requirement because of the use of legacy third-party vendors. 

Novartis leveraged Amazon’s AWS to develop Insight Centers that could provide interactive operational information to both site operators and corporate users in real time globally. It claims to offer a cloud-native and ultra-scalable environment that allows existing big data processing technology to run with a few changes. Novartis boasts that it can cost-effectively ensure product and process traceability with the global Insight Center integration.

BrightInsight and AstraZeneca’s disease management platform

California-based digital health tech provider BrightInsight and AstraZeneca have co-developed a disease management platform AMAZE. It is built on the cloud-based platform BrightInsight. The platform intends to offer patients an end-to-end digital solution for chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and heart failure. 

AMAZE is a mobile application incorporated with digital IoT-driven devices and a clinician health dashboard, which in turn is synchronized with the EHR. Its cloud database captures real-time patient data, augments it, and forwards it to physicians for effective diagnosis and care adjustments.  

Healthcare providers can outline a set of rules based on patients’ health conditions that will flag any deterioration in a patient’s health post-treatment. The app also allows clinicians and patients to communicate with each other via secure texting or teleconsulting. The pre-built functionality of the BrightInsight platform and the abundance of information related to her with leading hospitals and healthcare centres provide the required ability to enhance digital technology. The platform is compliant with all regulatory, privacy, and security-related guidelines, as per the healthcare requirements. 

According to National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), chronic diseases are responsible for seven out of 10 deaths in the US. Although there are various remote monitoring options, only a few provide a unified patient experience across many conditions and are integrated into the clinical workflow, both of which are essential drivers of acceptance and scale. This leads to an increased rate of chronic disease.  

AstraZeneca’s AMAZE aims to close the gap between patients and health service providers. It intends to provide a service that is consolidated with all the required aspects of an efficient clinical workflow, including IoT-based remote monitoring. AstraZeneca claims that AMAZE will enhance patient engagement and adherence to therapy for such major ailments and enable the doctor to provide a real-time diagnosis-based one-to-one consultation. The company plans to expand its reach into other therapy areas in the near future.

Sandoz’s RFID-tagged critical injectable medicines to automate restocking

German healthcare company Sandoz has partnered with a Virginia-based automated medication tracking startup and has introduced the first three injectable medicines with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. The medicines include Anectine, Rocuronium, and Norepinephrine.  

The RFID tags on the medicines can help pharmacies in hospitals to improve efficiency, minimize risk, and better support patient treatment by providing real-time inventory reports and timely tracking of expiration of products and recalls. This will aid in the automatic replenishment of supplies over the long term.  

The medicines embedded with the tags are used to track each medication that passes through the hospital pharmacies. Scanners will automatically identify the products in terms of national drug code (NDC), lot number, and expiration date, saving time for hospital staff and reducing the risk of medical error. This can help hospital pharmacies to see the product’s journey from the plant to the point of administration in real time.  

Maintaining inventory levels of critical medicines is paramount for hospitals to treat patients, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. Manually checking the labels to record each medicine in the pharmacy is a tedious and time-consuming task. To that end, Sandoz has embedded three of its critical injectable medicines with Kit Check RFID tags to automate the process.

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article. 

GlobalData’s Thematic Intelligence uses proprietary data, research, and analysis to provide a forward-looking perspective on the key themes that will shape the future of the world’s largest industries and the organisations within them.