IoT is the Best Medicine for Pharmaceutical Challenges

IoT is helping increase the efficiency and accuracy of medication research and usage. Online pharmacies, pharmacies, and pharmaceutical companies are using artificial intelligence, RFID, machine learning, and more to deliver more efficient patient care.

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Image credit: IntelliGuard Pharmacy Station

Online pharmacies are using IoT to deliver medications to customers’ doors. Online pharmacy systems are great for those with less mobility or time, but they can be used by anyone. Capsule is an online pharmacy platform that fulfills and delivers prescription medication directly to customers. Capsule operates pharmacies and delivery services in several US cities. Each pharmacy location uses predictive inventory to ensure medications are available when needed. 

Once customers are registered, Capsule’s system coordinates with the customers’ previous pharmacy and healthcare professionals for medication information. Capsule also directly communicates with customers’ insurance, so customers are only billed their copay. Capsule monitors when prescriptions should be refilled and communicates with healthcare providers for authorization if needed. When a customer’s medication is available to be refilled, Capsule notifies users to schedule delivery. 

The Capsule mobile dashboard allows customers to search for medications, order and manage prescriptions, and schedule delivery. It also offers medication information, directions, and alerts about medication, payment, and delivery status. If needed, customers can message pharmacists for additional guidance. The Capsule online platform and Capsule personnel adhere to HIPAA guidelines to protect patient information. 

Clinical Trials Count on IoT

Automation and AI are also increasingly being tapped in clinical trial management. With the help of IoT, decentralized or digital clinical trials are becoming more popular. Not only are overall costs reduced, but so is time spent on research and development. Goldman Sachs research suggests that using artificial intelligence and cloud computing will reduce outsourced drug development costs by 15 percent by 2024. 

Digital clinical trials capitalize on remote monitoring, data analytics, and artificial intelligence. Together, these allow contract research organizations (CROs) to effectively adjust trial methods, leverage patient data, and reduce the administrative burden for pharmaceutical professionals, with the goal of increasing the probability of FDA approval. IoT also can be used in silico, or non-human, trials. 

Many leading pharmaceutical companies are using artificial intelligence in clinical trials to analyze patient data, looking for conditions or other medications that could disqualify or qualify patients for specific trials. In practice, artificial intelligence also can scan patient health records and alert professionals if it identifies potential risks in modifying a patient’s medication plan. AI also monitors prescription trends of controlled substances and flags possible concerns of addiction or fraud.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are helping to reduce and resolve supply chain issues as well. Machine learning monitors medication usage trends to predict the supply and demand of medications, helping pharmacies maintain stock while reducing waste. AI can notify pharmacists when a medication is recalled and trace bad medications, reducing the overall time spent on correcting the error. 

Capsule Pharmacy collection point

Image credit: Capsule Pharmacy, Washington, DC

RFID Monitors Medication Storage

Pharmacies are also using RFID tags on medication containers to increase the efficiency and accuracy of medication dispensing. IntelliGuard created the IntelliGuard® Pharmacy Station, including the IntelliGuard® Smart Batch Encoding and IntelliGuard® Insights programs.

The IntelliGuard® Smart Batch Encoding program labels medications with the RFID tags, and the IntelliGuard® Insights program is a cloud-based predictive analytics platform that helps pharmacists monitor inventory, expiration dates, and trends for medications. The IntelliGuard® Pharmacy Station automates workflow so pharmacists can spend more time with patients. 

Various hospital chains are using the IntelliGuard® Pharmacy Station to best monitor medication storage. After placing an RFID tag on a medication, the lot number and expiration date are uploaded into the pharmacy’s integrated computer system. When medication trays are removed from the pharmacy for use, they must be scanned back in at the scanning station. The scanning station detects missing medications and also notifies the user if any medication is near expiration. Staff members will also be alerted if medications are stocked incorrectly, improving patient safety. 

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