NEW YORK: The Internet of Things (IoT) will present pharmaceutical brands with a "conundrum" about how best to keep pace with changing consumer habits, a leading executive from Oglivy CommonHealth Worldwide has argued.

Ritish Patel, EVP/Chief Digital Officer at Oglivy CommonHealth Worldwide, discussed this subject at the 2017 ePharma Summit held by KNect365.

"The industry is in an interesting conundrum at the moment," he said. (For more details, read Warc's exclusive report: How the Internet of Things will change healthcare – and how pharma brands can respond.)

"They are [focused on] a model of creating pills to give you, or some medicines for you to manage things. But as [an] IoT patient, you're going in to the doctor with all of these connected devices and wearables and sensors, [and] managing your health yourself."

Some traditional pharma manufacturers, he continued, are already moving towards this space by providing products outside pills in packets and bottles.

"A lot of companies are looking at beyond-the-pill services," Patel said. "It's easier for device manufacturers and those pharma companies that have devised delivery mechanisms for a medicine – the insulin pump, say."

Building on this theme, he suggested that pharmaceutical companies could start adapting to the IoT by exploring two different areas.

"[The first is] helping patients to live better while taking their medicine. By applying IoT, patients [such] as diabetics can be reminded to exercise – 'Stand up. Now go for walk outside', those kinds of things," he said.

"The second is education. While tracking things, patients can be kept abreast as to the ways the medication is helping them … So that's where the industry should start, in my humble opinion."

While the pharma industry is typically regarded as a conservative one, Patel asserted that the rise of technologies in other categories – such as voice-activated, interactive speakers and digital personal assistants – will have a clear spillover effect.

"With the Amazon Echo, and 'OK, Google', and Google Home, and Siri permeating our lives, it's not going to stop or change no matter what we say," he said.

Data sourced from WARC