With the disruption of 2021 behind us, we can reflect on a year that brought a lot of ups and downs, creating uncertainty in countless industries across the globe. From this came new ways of working, which the medical device industry certainly did not escape. With regulations looming and the need to embrace disruptive new technologies, the medical device industry has been swamped with compliance deadlines and change – and this isn’t set to slow down anytime soon.
The EU IVDR deadline this year is slowly creeping up, due to be enforced from May 2022, and organizations will see a lot of pressure applied to staff and rising demand for advanced technology deployments to support the process of achieving compliance.
As digital transformation sweeps the medical device industry, artificial intelligence (AI), 3D rendering, and cloud systems are the frontrunning capabilities that look set to take the industry by storm, positioning themselves as valuable assets across global medical device operations.
1. AI taking the pressure off operations
For some time now, the medical device industry has relied on manual work to carry out critical tasks such as label, artwork and asset management and associated end-to-end processes. This, however, is not sustainable for both optimizing operations and human error, nor is it keeping abreast with the digital transformation most industries are currently going through.
As the medical device industry looks for ways to modernize its operations, AI is the tech advancement the industry is increasingly turning towards for assistance. AI can significantly speed up formerly manual processes and alleviate the burden on the workforce, allowing them to re-focus and prioritize other business-critical work. With AI an excellent fit for process-oriented work, it has the ability to complete repetitive tasks with minimal errors – a key focus for medical device labeling.
For example, AI can identify label assets such as regulatory symbols and text and fill a spreadsheet with standardized data – a task that would take far longer and have an increased risk of mistakes if completed manually. Having such digital solutions that can alleviate the pressures of medical device labeling tasks, such as Veraciti, mean efficiency and productivity can be significantly increased. One multinational medical device company, for example, changed 90,000 labels in six months with only six people on the task. For reference, if there was no technology in use here, one million labels would take on average 300 million hours to manually change. The writing is clearly on the wall.
2. The medical device industry is going virtual
Another emerging technology that I expect to see in increased usage throughout 2022 is 3D rendering – a software solution designed to take user-created 3D models and place them into fully-realized 3D environments or images. In the label and artwork space, 3D rendering can generate labels to put on the product and produce a 360-degree view of what it will look like on the bottle, product or even shelf before it goes to market. Traditionally, the software has mostly only been used in retail settings but recent interest from medical device companies has seen a major increase in requests by marketing teams within these organizations.
The request comes again from a timing perspective. With 3D rendering, marketing teams have more free time for downstream editing for different types of print press – rather than simply pulling in another person to do the job on their own. But similar to the AI story, 3D rendering will work best alongside human labor – simply relying on the computer alone will not be effective. For example, the artist will need to choose the best color for the materials, as well as define the correct lighting features to make the most realistic render possible.
Here at Kallik, we’ve been helping medical device customers with this process ourselves, but now we have the additional power of support from our new AI and 3D technology partners, integrating 3D modeling with the Kallik Veraciti platform.
3. Cloud-based solutions offer upgrades and reliability
Last but not least, my third and final prediction is the further adoption of cloud-based technologies, where the stats really speak for themselves. Research by TechJury has suggested that by 2025, the global public cloud computing market will be worth over $800 billion, with over 70% of companies already using cloud set to increase their budgets in the upcoming years.
Here at Kallik, we have been using Amazon Web Services (AWS) to host our Veracti platform for 18 months. The benefits have been highly noticeable, so I’m not surprised to see that in 2020, more than 50% of enterprises moved their workloads to AWS. This was the largest enterprise public cloud adoption figure for the year, a trend that I don’t see changing in 2022. With old legacy systems, adding a new customer to the system would be slow – but as our customer base has continued to increase, the new platform hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down either. With enhanced reliability, using AWS has given us the ability to dramatically scale as a business, as well as our customers.
Cloud solutions offer automatic upgrades and reliability testing – which is exactly what AWS has been doing for Kallik and its customers. Now, with less time spent on manual upgrades, team members are able to focus on future technologies and prospects that will be critical for business operations in the upcoming years.
With a new year comes new possibilities
As we start to progress through 2022, the clock is ticking on the EU IVDR compliance deadline, so it has never been more important for the medical device industry to be prepared to comply with new industry regulations. With a May deadline coming quicker than expected, the time has arrived to make the leap from manual processes to advanced technologies to enhance both compliance projects and long-term artwork and label management operations.
With technologies such as 3D modelling, cloud-based solutions, and AI now readily available, we should expect to see a rise in industry professionals using such advanced tech to enhance operations throughout 2022 and beyond. With targeted digital deployments throughout operations, the medical device industry is poised to benefit from greater agility and long-term efficiency savings.