Dr Bertalan Mesko is a consultant, influencer and author engaged in styling the future of the healthcare sector, working with doctors, government regulators and companies to implement digital health technologies.
The proclaimed ‘Medical Futurist’ is the headline speaker at Tracelink’s supply chain event NEXUS in Barcelona this week, but in-Pharmatechnologist (IPT) spoke to him ahead of his keynote to find out how technology and digital innovations will affect pharma’s supply chain going forward.
IPT: How will technology be used to shape pharma’s supply chain?
BM: Technology will play a pivotal role in advancing the future of the medical and healthcare industries: drug serialization is one of the greatest transformations currently affecting the pharmaceutical supply chain, presenting opportunities for innovation and advancement.
IPT: Are current drug traceability technologies and controls suitable and practical for the needs of industry and regulators?
BM: In the era of the Internet of Things, drug traceability technologies need to catch up with all of the opportunities provided by disruptive innovations. From RFID chips that keep decreasing in size to 3D printers that might be able to print out drugs on demand at the point-of-care.
IPT: Where will such changes come from – pharma firms, regulators, 3rd party firms etc?
BM: Ideally, change should come from policy makers who should be at the forefront of innovations. Healthcare systems can become more sustainable with the help of disruptive health technologies through changing the building-blocks of the system. Such a bottom-up method should also be facilitated by policy-makers. This is what we rarely see happen worldwide.
IPT: Can pharma’s supply chain take or learn anything from other industries?
BM: In such a highly-regulated industry, it’s hard to take something practical from other industries, but maybe a valid threat is worth looking at. The way the space industry was disrupted by a startup (SpaceX) in less than a decade is a good lesson for all of us in pharma and healthcare - it can happen to us too if we don’t keep up with the technological changes.
IPT: And on the flip side, can other industries look to the pharma industry for its supply chain tech and processes?
BM: I wish every industry’s supply chain was as regulated and used similar quality control measures as supply chains in pharma.
IPT: With your ‘Medical Futurist’ insight, how do you envision the pharma supply chain in 10, 20, 40 years’ time?
BM: As The Medical Futurist, I work on closing the gap between what might become possible tomorrow through science fiction like technologies and what challenges we face today in healthcare and pharma. 3D printing, augmented reality and deep learning algorithms will certainly play a major role in shaping the future of supply chains.
IPT: And finally, can you give us a sneaky overview of what you will be presenting at NEXUS this week?
BM: I will be discussing why there is a need for science fiction in healthcare, why we don’t have it already and the positive impact technology can have in helping to shape the future of healthcare, including the pharmaceutical industry.
Dr Bertalan Mesko, PhD is the Medical Futurist. A geek physician with a PhD in genomics and Amazon Top 100 author, he envisions the impact of digital health technologies on the future of healthcare, and helps patients, doctors, government regulators and companies make it a reality.