Sanofi's Digital Health Guru On Joint Ventures And Finding Top Talent
By Rob Wright, Chief Editor, Life Science Leader
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When developing the upcoming August 2018 cover feature for Life Science Leader magazine involving Ameet Nathwani, M.D., EVP of Sanofi’s medical function, we had more content than we could fit into the print edition. So, we’re presenting that additional information here in our exclusive online section — Beyond The Printed Page.
The focus of the discussion with Nathwani is around what he is doing to ready Sanofi for the era of digital health. In the upcoming feature you will learn more about that, as well as some of his insights around the role of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).
Did you know that one of Sanofi’s digital health initiatives involves a joint venture with one of the world’s top technology companies? Further, if you were interested in starting a digital health initiative at your company, where would you go to look for top talent? Read on to learn more.
How Is Sanofi Building A Technology/Drug/Analytics Solution?
“We created Onduo, a $500-million diabetes-focused joint venture between Sanofi and Verily Life Sciences, an Alphabet company, to try to answer such a question,” shares Ameet Nathwani, M.D. Founded in September 2016, Onduo recently launched its first product. “It’s an app plus a continuous glucose-monitoring device, plus an insulin pump that are all linked together,” shares Sanofi’s EVP of medical function. “The Onduo app has a built-in coach (i.e., an electronic assistant) to help patients better manage their diabetes and accomplish their health goals.” Nathwani believes such programs will increasingly utilize AI to enable individualized healthcare. But don’t such apps require regulatory approval? “It depends if the app is regarded as a coach or a medical device,” he explains. “Lifestyle apps, like this one, don’t require FDA approval.”
Within Sanofi, the digital-health team consists of about 20 people who are fully dedicated to overseeing all of Sanofi’s digital activities and strategies. “Although we have digital champions within various Sanofi businesses who run experiments looking for key success factors that would warrant scale-up, these people aren’t formal members of Sanofi’s digital-health team,” he explains.
Where Are You Finding People/Companies With Desirable Digital-Health Skills?
“For us it has been important to be highly visible at external congresses,” Ameet Nathwani answers. For example, Sanofi attends the international consumer electronics show (CES), and is a major sponsor at VivaTech, an annual technology conference in Paris. “When people see Sanofi present they are intrigued, as there’s so much startup tech activity in health, and many have seen how we invest in the companies with which we partner,” adds the EVP of Sanofi’s medical function. StartUp Health, which takes place in San Francisco at the same time as the annual J.P. Morgan healthcare conference, is another can’t-miss digital-health event according to Nathwani. “It provides the opportunity to network with thousands of health-tech startups,” he shares. Another similar conference is the LIGHT Forum (Leaders in Global Healthcare and Technology) at Stanford University, a place where a lot of healthcare and technology luminaries interface. This past May Sanofi’s CEO, Olivier Brandicourt, participated on the panel, The Changing Nature Of Evidence In Healthcare — Now Data Is King.