The future of smart pharmaceutical packaging and connected medical devices


CPI, Sedgefield, United Kingdom


It is one of society’s greatest achievements that life expectances are increasing. However, with a greater percentage of people living longer, healthcare systems are seeing a rise in long term, often age-related, chronic conditions that require careful management. Additionally, as comorbidities become more common with age (1) and compliance to medication is often as low as 50%, healthcare systems are being put under significant financial and capacity-related strain. Improvements in digital technologies may provide an opportunity to support the healthcare system with this challenge. Developments in artificial intelligence, computing, wearables and the internet of things (IoT) can enable smart packaging and connected medical devices to support better management of health conditions. The current healthcare system is at a turning point and the correct application of these new technologies could help to create a better-managed health ecosystem, combining preventative healthcare with better drug adherence and improved healthcare outcomes. 


The global increase in life expectancy is largely attributed to improvements in sanitation, personal hygiene and diet. In addition, researchers have developed a deeper understanding of health, including prevention and treatment of both communicable and non-communicable diseases. A significant result of people living longer is the shifting of global and UK demographic compositions. According to the UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) (2), from 1996 to 2017, the number of people aged 65 and over has increased from one in six to one in five. This is projected to be one in every four people (24%) by 2037. Numerous studies have shown that multi-morbidity increases with age (3-5), including a recent study of 1.7million patients in Scotland (3) that found of adults aged 45-64, 30.4% reported at least two chronic conditions, which increased to 64.9% of adults aged 65-84, and to more than 80% for those over 85 years old. As populations continue to grow and age, society will increasingly see more long term age-related chronic diseases and comorbidities. Although patients’ conditions are frequently managed via interventions from their healthcare systems, ul ...