Medical & Pharma: The 2 Key Areas Where AR Makes A Difference

Medical & Pharma: The 2 Key Areas Where AR Makes A Difference

In the medical and pharmaceutical sectors, precision and quality are crucial to success. Since mistakes made in these fields have the potential to cause life-threatening ramifications, a quality event can pose significant financial and credibility risks for payers. Inevitably, human error is a critical challenge any corporate in the industry needs to tackle. Today, many medical and pharmaceutical manufacturers are already turning to the latest technologies to find ways to improve all quality factors in the first phases of production.

In this article, we'll give you an overview of 2 key areas in the medical and pharmaceutical sectors where Augmented Reality (AR) is having a significant impact by reducing human error. 

If you would like a quick summary of both scenarios, simply scroll to the end of this article.

1. Enhanced AR Training for device assembly & set-up  

Currently, training for device set-up and configuration is based on Operating Procedure (OP) documentation that is usually not user-friendly. These OPs are traditionally massive manuals that make it challenging to find the information, which is often explained in complicated 2D diagrams and instructions. Overall, these OPs make it impossible for device operators to learn on their own, and forces them to take long onboarding periods with experienced trainers. In the long run, this approach is deeply flawed as it requires workers to rely on their memory when out in the field. If something is forgotten, devices will inevitably be set up incorrectly and/or not used to their full potential.  

Many leaders in the medical sector, such as Getinge, are already turning to Augmented Reality to train employees to set-up and assemble their equipment. The reasons are obvious, with results that decrease human errors by 90% and improve training times by 60%. AR training solutions allow device operators to visualize complicated OP documentation in a simple way for more effective learning that can also be used on the job later. This way, device operators always have training content available instantly - in the right place, at the right time, on the right device. 

The latest business software tools allow medical and pharmaceutical companies to easily update their complicated OP documentation and convert it into simplified AR training solutions for mobile devices, tablets, and smart glasses. Updating the existing documentation (instead of starting from scratch) makes it easier to build their own AR-guides with the right mixture of videos, text, and images - but also visualizes the most crucial parts of the instructions to help reduce the chance of human errors.

Medical AR_Getinge app on tablet with device Augmented Reality visualizes OP documentation in a clear and understandable way.

2. Lean production line changeovers with AR-based procedures

When switching the production line from one product to the next, pharmaceutical companies, just like any manufacturer, face multiple risks at the same time. Every minute of changeover time comes at the cost of missed revenue as production is down to rearrange, set-up, and configure the equipment for the next production cycle. Lean manufacturing strategies can help solve the dilemma to shorten downtime and increase the final output.

A common issue is the combination of automated and manual set-ups that complexify many changeover processes, and increase the risk of errors that affect product quality. What's more, since changeover equipment is highly regulated, pharmaceutical companies are required to follow lengthy validation and clearance procedures - thus extending changeover times further. Common issues include:

  • Inconsistent human intervention causes errors and quality issues 
  • Lengthy validation & clearance procedures extend production downtime 
  • Complex changeover processes increase missed revenue 

AR guidance during changeover procedures are proving to not only see 40% less errors but increase changeover speed to be 25% faster. The trick is to clearly show operators the ideal state of the task at hand in AR next to the actual state. This way operators can always see what needs to be done as they are working. As augmented instructions guide operators through each step, the risk of error is ultimately reduced for all manual stages of the changeover. In addition, these AR applications also provide a digital audit trail that documents all accomplished steps. This is a crucial added value that can drastically help accelerate validation and clearance steps. The digitalized process is faster and more reliable, which helps you to achieve both short downtimes and high product quality. 

3 key takeaways medical AR

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