Advancements in technology, knowledge and manufacturing techniques have defined medicine since the Industrial Revolution. However, according to experts in the field of pharmaceutical technology, the next big change to the medical world may be close at hand.
According to a poll by Pharmaceutical Technology, half of their readers believe the use of robotics in pharmaceutical distribution and manufacturing will start to peak within three to five years, and we have seen an increase in the use of automation in life sciences.
Using automation can help boost not only the manufacturing process but also has seen increasing use in drug development and anti-counterfeiting and counterfeit detection methods, with the help of advanced artificial intelligence connected to medical technology.
What Is Automation?
Automation, in its broadest sense, is where technology is used to achieve an outcome with very little human input.
Whilst it is often used to discuss physical automata, such as robotics, assembly lines and other basic tasks, automation is a much broader discipline and often incorporates the use of artificial intelligence software as well as physical machinery.
A famous example of this in the MedTech world is the use of machine learning algorithms to detect cancer cells in a slide of samples.
The Different Types Of Automation
The reason why automation has a versatile place in the pharmaceutical world is because the concept of automation is broad not only in its uses but also in its methodology.
When many people think of automation they tend to think of basic automation, which is where basic tasks are streamlined and undertaken using technology instead of using manpower.
An example of this can be found in assembly line work. Initially a process that required dozens if not hundreds of workers to construct machinery, modern assembly lines have a small number of skilled staff members to oversee a process undertaken by robots designed for the process.
Another method of automating work is integration automation, where a machine emulates a human task and repeats it once it has been defined by humans.
The final form of automation, and the most interesting avenue when it comes to pharmaceuticals, is machine learning, or AI-based automation.
Artificial intelligence has already had a significant impact on the medical world, from the bread-detecting machine that can scan for cancer, to aiding in drug detection by training an algorithm to look for specific compounds.
The Dream Of Personalised Medicine
One particularly fascinating field which would combine pharmaceuticals and automation is in the field of personalised medicine.
With an increased knowledge of the effects of medicines on a molecular level and an increased understanding of the human genome, personalised medicine would create personalised health plans and precise medicines to prevent diseases and treat them as effectively as possible.
Currently, for the treatment of some diseases, doctors will employ a trial and error approach to find the right treatment for patients. They provide a patient with the most commonly accepted treatment, and affect the dosage or use an alternative if it does not work.
Personalised medicine would theoretically eliminate the need for this, and would provide the right drug at the right dose at the right time