Since the last few years, IoT or the Internet of Things has taken the technology world by storm. Every sector is trying to embrace this IoT phenomenon in whatever manner possible. IoT adoption in the healthcare market was estimated to be around $104 billion in 2019. These numbers are expected to rise at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 18% from 2020 to 2025.
The pharmaceutical industry, an integral part of healthcare, has also benefited a lot from IoT. Most of these IoT developments are focused on exploring new opportunities in drug control and manufacturing. IoT has also ensured better control in drug manufacturing, improved supply chain management and preventive maintenance of equipment.
The Pharma sector is a highly data-driven and research-oriented industry, which is why most of its innovations are intended to maintain efficiency by using the technological aspect of science. So, the role of quality engineering in pharma industry is undeniably more important than it seems. Moreover, with the recent advent of IoT in pharma, the need for quality assurance has substantially increased.
Here is how quality assurance in IoT can help the pharma sector:
Proper facilitation for equipment’s predictive maintenance
Just like any other manufacturing unit, preventive maintenance of equipment is crucial to drug manufacturing. No pharma company can afford an unplanned shutdown, which is why proper testing and maintenance are the keys. Moreover, since modern drug manufacturing units having numerous interconnected technological components, thereby requires bringing IoT into the picture.
For the success of pharma companies, the reliable consonance between maintenance and regular operations is vital. To ensure a flawless IoT implementation, IoT testing every aspect of the system is indispensable. Whether it’s by usability testing or compatibility testing, a careful assessment of IoT equipment integration is necessary.
Appropriate enablement of remote R&D with smart automation
Owing to the current situation, many companies, including those in the pharma sector, have adapted to the remote working environment. As a result, most of the linear and repetitive quality assurance processes with definitive steps are in the course of being automated. However, when it comes to pharma R&D, the challenge lies with integrating such processes that necessitate intelligent automation and AI-enabled services.
This is where AI-enabled IoT comes into the picture as it creates intelligent machines which can successfully simulate human behavior. Since these AI-powered IoT systems are comprehensive in nature, the need for an AI-enabled software testing process increases. Furthermore, these software testing processes involving AI-enabled IoT significantly reduces human errors even in end-to-end multi-step R&D operations.
Continuous supervision of the drug manufacturing environment
One of the biggest threats to any pharma company is a suboptimal drug manufacturing environment. Such a situation is due to the usage of low-quality equipment and the lack of transparency as well as limited visibility during the software quality assurance stage.
Most of these issues can be resolved by connecting multiple sensors and enabling them to monitor every environment indicator (temperature, radiation, humidity, etc.) during the manufacturing and service delivery process. Moreover, with the integration of software testing in IoT, the pharma business can also bring transparency and real-time monitoring even in the various stages of the quality engineering process.
Seamless integration with third-party medical devices
In general, both the medical device industry and the pharma sector is quite divergent in nature. However, with the recent advancements in the healthcare sector, this line of distinction has been blurred.
Drug-Device Combinations (DDCs) is one such application where the blending of medical devices and pharma is conspicuously exhibited. DDCs are medical device sensors to monitor drug activity in a patient and it is IoT that makes it possible.
Even though most of it is still in the development stage, making provisions for the same through IoT innovations is essential. Consequently, to ensure operational efficiency, there is also a need for these IoT integrations to undergo software testing.
Efficient monitoring of supply chain management
As the drug leaves the manufacturing unit, the function of the supply chain comes into play. It includes packing, putting batch numbers, marking smart labels or RFID tags, finalizing the route and sending the packages off. In addition, maintaining a specific temperature throughout the transit or getting real-time updates on the GPS-enabled vehicles are also required.
All of these can be easily managed by utilizing IoT technology. However, pharma companies need a fail-proof supply chain system for efficient drug delivery and reduced time-to-market. So, before going ahead with IoT implementation in the supply chain system, it is necessary to perform quality assurance checks for each component.
Proper enforcement of laws
The Pharma sector requires strict enforcement of drug regulations, but the real challenge is the diversity in these regulations across countries and regions. Businesses that operate on a global scale face such problems regularly. In this regard, IoT can ease the enforceability by checking each regulation against their respective country or region.
Here, validating and verifying the IoT integration and implementation is also important as it ensures the system’s accuracy and efficiency. Even though pharma companies can check it themselves, taking help from technology assurance companies who are also experts in IoT software testing can be more beneficial.
The Future of software testing in IoT concerning the pharma sector.
The new IoT era enables digital connectivity at a different level, which in turn aids the pharma businesses in sustaining themselves in the ever-growing market demand. Such a level of IoT integration also requires specialized IoT tools to validate its functionality and performance.
Not many companies are fully equipped to handle or operate such IoT software testing tools, hence the need for pureplay software testing service providers.