Prabhakar on the IoT Revolution in IVD Industry
The Internet of Things (IoT) has rapidly become a familiar term and every Industry across the globe is swept by this technological revolution. The In Vitro Diagnostic (IVD) industry in India too appears to be catching up on this trend.
A decade ago, we may have had many anxious hours (anywhere from 10-24 hours or more!) between submitting a blood or urine sample for diagnosis and obtaining its results.
In today’s “on demand” world, both patients as well as clinicians would love to have the least TAT (turnaround time) starting from sample collection to reporting; with the report being made available in their inbox or mobile phone within minutes of giving the sample.
Though the IVD industry has made rapid strides in this direction over the past 5 -7 years, the pace of growth has been rather slow.
Considerations of ‘accuracy’ and ‘cost’ are paramount in this Industry; not to forget the “convenience” angle. While on the one hand, consumerization of healthcare in IVD industry has improved convenience for patients, on the other hand it has increased complexity of operations. Instead of a patient visiting the hospital to get his blood tested, healthcare providers are collecting blood samples at home. Therefore, healthcare providers are burdened with plethora of data that not only hampers their productivity but also triggers one of the biggest issues of healthcare, ie, manual errors.
This problem can be solved only if instruments of different make talk to one another and the Lab is able to collate results into a single sensible, accurate report that clinicians can rely upon. The demand for networking of Diagnostic Lab instruments is growing rapidly and is expected to be upwards of 25% YOY.
With preventive healthcare and clinical diagnosis all set to play a vital role in improving the healthcare value chain, the focus is really on innovative products and solutions provided by players in the IVD Industry. Companies like ours help healthcare professionals by providing reliable, affordable and innovative diagnostic solutions.
For Laboratories, the single largest consideration is down time. Even though companies offer post-sales services, breakdown service, the preventive maintenance that comes as a part of AMC/CMC goes a long way in the upkeep (a stich in time saves nine). As the IVD Industry is evolving, we see the population of “automated analyzers” increasing rapidly. The embedded software and technology inside these automated analyzers additionally enables predictive maintenance of IVD devices. This is a huge win-win for the customer as well as the manufacturer of IVD instruments.
Connected devices to the rescue
Business models are getting complex by the day with the arrival of HLM (Hospital Lab Management companies), Chain Labs owning various central and satellite labs, Franchisee models, and Reagent rental model of placements by Companies, among others. This will bring to the fore several more business considerations e.g. Asset Management/Utilization (akin to keeping aircrafts in the air v/s on the ground), Equipment health, Total cost of ownership, Revenue sharing v/s cost sharing etc.
We can now use sensor and machine data to generate actionable information related to consumption patterns (time of day, day of week, marketing). IoT can be used to effectively monitor and manage devices from a remote location and managed through cloud-based solution lab management systems. This will enable manufacturers and suppliers of IVD devices to:
• Optimize the accuracy of test results and analyze operational data
• Predict potential downtime of any instrument and provide prompt up times
• Schedule the delivery of consumables
• Troubleshoot / update software remotely
• Train the ‘remote’ lab technicians on applications (new/old)
• Reduce number of visits by converting planned and emergency visits to customer outlets by converting to preventative visits
• Plan and optimize spare parts consumption
Thus, Middleware supports all the evolving business processes that drive the lab business and will cater to the needs of all the stakeholders in a lab eco system.
The future is here
New IoT devices are announced daily and analysts expect up to 30 billion of them to be online by 2020. A large number of connected devices, especially those managed by Artificial Intelligence systems, can revolutionize healthcare! For instance, an eye lens that constantly monitors diabetes level and triggers an alarm or calls a doctor if levels go up or down to alarming levels, software errors in machine getting self-corrected… and so on. We see a future where preventive maintenance is almost entirely replaced by predictive maintenance! Repairs or corrective action are only required when predictive technologies indicate failing health of machines. With clear advantages over traditional approaches, predictive maintenance is poised to transform the IVD industry.
Equally interesting is the LIS and LIMS software and applications. More about it later…