How electronic drug delivery will transform the supply chain

How electronic drug delivery will transform the supply chain

Now the phrase electronic drug delivery may recall images from science fiction classics and most likely include some form of robotics, however, the reality is much simpler. Electronic and connected drug delivery is an exciting new trend in the medical industry that is opening up a host of new opportunities for patient-administered therapy.

Drug delivery systems are an integral part of the healthcare ecosystem. Patient health outcomes depend on the precise administration of medications in line with the regimen prescribed by doctors. Electronic drug delivery is moving away from the stereotypical format of drugs or syringes that must be administered by healthcare professionals. The movement is towards smaller, smarter, wirelessly connected electronic devices that allow patients to administer drugs in the comfort of their own homes. This trend is revolutionizing the patient care picture, allowing those with ongoing health conditions to take control of their care and receive ongoing care without the need to be in a healthcare facility.

Remote medical care is a rapidly evolving area that has been pushed further in the past couple of years and is strongly driven by innovation in the medical device industry. The global e-drug delivery market itself is expected to reach $ 119 billion by 2024. Leading delivery devices in digital drug delivery include inhalers, injectors, infusion pumps and nasal sprays.

For example, there are currently new developments in the process for smart infusion pumps used in intravenous infusions. These can provide sensor-powered intelligent flow control or device life monitoring, all of which will help monitor patient conditions and perform clinical and diagnostic analyzes to generate condition-based recommendations for changing drug regimens.

An example of extraordinary innovation is the 3M Intelligent Control Inhaler. Inhalation therapy hasn’t changed much in the last 50 years and actually many patients don’t use inhalers properly. 3M’s new technology is breath-driven so patients don’t have to coordinate inspiration with device activation. It can also provide performance feedback and suggestions on user techniques to promote accurate use.

Many of these devices are expected to hit the market in the next few years, but what more can we say? There is a lot of discussion about the future of medicine, be it wearable devices or personalized medicine, but for drug delivery, there are debates that technology-enabled pills could be the next stage. These sensor-enabled pills can track when medications and even slow-release medications are taken over time, especially useful for those who may have trouble remembering to take their medications.

As this evolving new industry transforms the way treatments are delivered, there will need to be considerable changes in the supply chain to be able to accommodate this new way of treating patients.

From the manufacturer’s point of view, they will have to consider how to increase production effectively in order to be able to meet demand. This will be much more unpredictable as it relies on patient changes rather than the hospital’s understanding that they will need an X-ray count in the next year. This new area of ​​devices will also have to be transported more sensitively than, for example, traditional equipment. Due to the specialized components used in these new devices, they will be much more susceptible to vibration or temperature. Security along the supply chain has always been important in the healthcare industry, but as devices become more advanced, more specific, and ultimately more expensive, security will become even more critical. Industry players see greater importance in supply chain visibility; there has been an uptake of digital solutions such as IoT sensors which are not only able to monitor location in real time but also vital conditions such as temperature and humidity. This helps ensure that the devices are safe throughout the entire logistics process.

For healthcare professionals, they need to understand where patients will be able to access these devices for use at home. Will they only be available through hospitals or GPs or could they be more easily accessible through pharmacy networks? Patients value convenience in their healthcare more and more, and healthcare is becoming more of a consumer product every day. Injections and inhalers of the likes of are typically picked up at a patient’s local pharmacy, so keeping the same facility would be beneficial. Therefore, healthcare professionals need to understand how they will distribute these specialty products safely on a more local and demand-driven basis.

We cannot be sure what the future of drug delivery will be, but we do know that electronic systems will play a much more important role. Medical care will become more personalized, digital-focused and data-driven. To achieve this, it is necessary to move from traditional healthcare infrastructure to one that extends far beyond a hospital wing.

Subtitle from James WellsResponsible for UK international transport

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