In 2021, complex global affairs, economic hurdles, and social issues stemming from the continued COVID-19 pandemic brought about a host of challenges for the pharma industry.
Challenges like supply chain issues, travel restrictions, social distancing protocols, and price increases led many pharma companies to search for ways to optimize their operations.
While the pharmaceutical industry is typically very cautious, it has collectively recognized the need to adapt to new and emerging technologies.
Going Fully Digital
Even in these volatile times, it’s widely acknowledged that moving toward greater digitization will help pharma companies create more efficient, productive, connected, and agile manufacturing operations.
Benefits of Digitization
Decreased Risk of Error
The pharmaceutical industry is highly regulated and leaves little to no room for error. And when errors do occur, they can lead to disastrous consequences including harmful outcomes for patients as well as legal backlash and a damaged reputation.
Digitization and automation make it much easier for companies to adhere to standards, record and manage data, and analyze processes in an effort to avoid the costly repercussions of unintended errors.
Increased Financial Gains
As digitization leads to increased productivity, it also has the potential to bring about increased financial gains. The ability to either produce more products quicker or produce the same number of products for less money lends to healthier margins.
Digitization aids in the ease of communication between parties. In the pharma manufacturing industry, this manifests itself as quick, remote support for troubleshooting or easily accessible virtual training on equipment, regulations, and standards. Virtual training, compared to in-person training, is more cost-effective and allows for greater flexibility and personalization.
Looking Forward: 2022 Digitization Trends
The use of technology such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) has transformed and expanded the possibilities for pharma companies to connect and visualize concepts in a new way. AR and VR allow groups of people to collaborate in real-time, regardless of location.
Many have used these tools for training, research, and brainstorming purposes in 2020 and 2021, and as technology keeps evolving and improving, will continue to do so in 2022.
Virtual Audits and Testing
Due to travel restrictions and social distancing protocols put in place during the height of the pandemic, many companies pivoted to virtual options for conducting audits of their suppliers or contract partners. They have also used the same virtual options for factory acceptance tests and formulation trials.
Even as restrictions are easing, many companies continue to host audits and tests virtually because of their time-and cost-effectiveness.
Cloud-Based Information Storage
While storing information via cloud technology isn’t an entirely new concept, many pharma companies have been adopting this practice at an increasing rate. The ability to share data effectively and easily with stakeholders and partners helps reduce the chance of errors, improve pharmaceutical compliance and readiness, and enhance data integrity.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Many companies have begun to explore the power of AI and how they can use it to improve the automation and optimization of the manufacturing process. AI has also proven to help determine patient eligibility for clinical trials.
Ask Yourself This
As we move into 2022, making steps toward going fully digital for more efficient, productive, connected, and agile operations is more important now than ever.
We encourage you to ask yourself: What steps will I company take in 2022 to start digitizing my operations?
And if your company has already begun the digitization process: What tactics or technology can I employ to improve my company’s digitization strategies in the coming year?
We’re Here to Help
Our expert pharmaceutical qualification consultants are ready to explore how you can enhance your manufacturing operations in 2022.