3 MIN READ

Ecosystem complexity and connected devices

Some outstanding products are being developed in the drug delivery space to harness the power of digital technology and address unmet needs such as patient compliance. Examples include the Cohero HeroTracker – a simple but powerful inhaler use-monitoring tool, through to the 3M Intelligent Control Inhaler – a multifunctional smart inhaler which does a heap of clever things from measuring doses to controlling breathing rate. It’s all very exciting.

I was contacted this week by a global business consultancy firm who wanted an opinion on the future of connected drug delivery devices. I agreed to share a few personal thoughts and perspectives. Rather than just regurgitate some general industry waffle I thought it would be good to explain one thing that I think is important to grasp when predicting the future of connected drug delivery devices. Namely that the ecosystem in which they will exist is astonishingly complex.

It’s tempting to draw simple conclusions about connected drug delivery based on what has happened in the consumer sector. But the heterogeneity of healthcare systems, clinical practise, pricing, competition, demographics and human beings themselves is vast. Some of these variables are compounded and others things change over time such as patent expiration, governmental policy and funding changes. My personal conclusion is that this complexity makes it almost impossible to exactly foresee how and where connected devices will eventually find sustainable niches.

My personal conclusion is that this complexity makes it almost impossible to exactly foresee how and where connected devices will eventually find sustainable niches.

Given this level of complexity I think the best strategy for companies developing products is to keep things simple in the first instance and to respond quickly to what they learn by placing product in the market. Lastly it is essential to have a long term view and not expect overnight adoption. The timescales over which medical devices come to market is probably 10 fold longer than the consumer sector, so patience is required.

Connected drug delivery devices is an exciting space which Team is very fortunate to be working in. It plays to our strengths because product development here requires genuine multi-disciplinary team working and an appreciation of everything from patients to production processes. Whilst we don’t know exactly what the future of connected drug delivery holds, I enjoy helping smart agile companies develop products which will make the lives of patients better in the long term.

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