As compared to the yesteryears, the population is growing exponentially, which is putting a strain on the system when it comes to the people being attended to, life expectancy going up, on average, the educated consumer today, and the expectation of a quick turnaround time, all demand transparency and traceability in the system.

1. Improved traceability

Over the years traceability has become a keyword globally in this extremely regulated industry. Whether it is pharmaceuticals or hospitals, they must follow very strict SOPs and guidelines and maintain an audit trail and track record of all transactions.

In the pharmaceutical industry, if for some reason a drug’s origin must be traced, it is easy today to track back through the distribution system up to the plant that it was manufactured in. One can go granular to a level of tracing the day, the shift operator and the machines used for the batch and the constituents of the batch can be traced to the vendors. This however is a reactive model. With the industrial revolution and subsequently industry standards being set and followed, the above SOPs, and processes have become easy to adopt. Technology has taken the industry by storm and the industry 4.0 practice is helping organizations digitize their processes.

Governments and customers of different countries have laid their mandates and requirements and it is practically impossible to adhere to them without digitization and technology.

2. Improved transparency

The industry has been hounded by drug counterfeiting and therefore is one of the most highly regulated industries. To compound that, poor visibility & Inefficiencies surface across supply chain functions. Transparency in the distribution chain is nil and it is a fragmented supply chain today rather than a collective ecosystem. Demand forecasting is proving to be a big challenge, a fact very evident by the havoc that is caused by the pandemic today. This has put the lives of patients in danger.

The adoption of technology to aid digitization across the industry has started reaping benefits. The more the adoption the higher is the visibility and benefit. Manual processes are being automated. Data today is equivalent to gold and is treated accordingly. The end-user will soon be empowered to take informed decisions and not be dependent or at the mercy of any particular entity or person.

3. Improved Visibility

Data captured at different stages of transactions, using different types of technology at various processes throughout the supply chain will certainly help gain visibility of the inventory. This is the missing link today.

As the disciplined data keeps getting acquired at stipulated points, it can be utilized for different reasons. The use of data can be humongous; from effectively managing the vendor ecosystem – to shortening delivery cycles or managing people – assigning tasks to the best-qualified resource or managing machines – to ensure the set and required parameters are adhered to or to control effective optimization of machines or maintain/enhance quality, and to understand the demand from the marketplace.

It would also give in-depth visibility in the forward supply chain. For example: tracking consignments real-time from origin to destination with any anomalies or deviations which can get highlighted with alerts along with a date and time stamp with the exact geolocation as the consignment moves from one distribution point to another, till it finally reaches the customer.

4. Better Doctor-Patient Coordination

The pandemic today has tested every aspect of healthcare. This is a distancing and no-contact era and there is a huge reliance on a digitized method to connect. Patients are connecting via video calls with the doctors. WhatsApp or other media is being used to instantly prescribe medication, not only from the doctor to the patient but also from the patient to the pharmacist.

There are mobile apps that allow consultation and second opinions from doctors and specialists and allow prescription-based delivery of medicines. This allows a repository of cases on the web/cloud and is a huge data bank for analysis, referrals for complicated cases, and treatment. And the icing on the cake is that it could happen from any part of the globe automating administrative tasks.

Today in-patient tracking has been made an SOP. Patients are tagged on the wrist and whichever departments or tests they go through the tag confirms the identity and the test associated with the patient. This information is relayed online to the HMS. The information is real-time and accurate.

5. Real-time Health Information

Smartphones and wearables are immensely popular pieces of hardware these days, and they’re becoming ever more capable. Modern smartwatches can monitor heart rate, count the number of steps you take, and even take an ECG. This makes them tremendously useful not just for everyday users, but their doctors as well. Imagine a patient wearing a smartwatch that is constantly transmitting their health data online.

Summary

One must also take advantage of the benefits that digitization brings in the health industry. A huge thrust to digitization can be achieved by having technology-led courses in the syllabus for Pharma sciences and health care. The learning curve can be drastically shortened, and the younger generation is quick to adapt to digitization. Given their ability it could just bring in a new revolution in the industry. The digital world is here to stay, and it will only exponentially grow in the coming year.