Blog January 15, 2019

Differentiation Through Digital  

phoneDigital technology is becoming increasingly important in the healthcare space. This was clearly reflected by the growing number of companies and events focused on the digital healthcare sector during JP Morgan/Biotech Week in San Francisco and new conferences dedicated to digital technology applications in health and wellness that have been scheduled for 2019. Uses of digital technology encompass not only apps, smart devices, and digital therapeutics aimed at directly helping individuals manage aspects of their health and wellness, but also machine learning algorithms that enable the management and mining of large data sets and real world data for insights into a wide variety of areas.


Digital technologies are also becoming increasingly important to drug developers, as we wrote at length in our recent In Vivo article, “Pharma’s Digital Directive: Not If, But How.” We invite you to download the full article here.  


Such technologies are helping pharmaceutical companies conduct clinical trials, support regulatory filings and manufacturing, and improve their understanding of how products perform in the real world. And, increasingly, pharma companies are adopting digital therapeutics and companion disease management tools to make their drugs more competitive by improving patient engagement and health outcomes.


An excellent illustration of this emerging trend is the growing use of digital tools and technologies to differentiate products and provide potential competitive advantages in the highly competitive diabetes treatment marketplace. Novo Nordisk has announced plans to roll out in early 2019 the first “connected” insulin pens that sync dosing data with other monitoring tools and digital health platforms. Novo is establishing non-exclusive partnerships that will enable dosing data from its insulin pens to be integrated with patient data from blood glucose meters and, in the next few years, from Dexcom’s continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device.  These data are then integrated with other patient data and delivered to digital diabetes management systems including Glooko’s mobile app and Roche’s mySugr and AccuCheck Smart Pix. Eli Lilly has announced plans for a similarly connected insulin pen as part of its “Connected Diabetes Ecosystem,” including their own CGM partnership with Dexcom. Novartis and Sanofi are planning similar initiatives.


Outside of the diabetes treatment area, Pfizer recently made digital technology an important part of its efforts to build relationships with patients and physicians, and potentially improve patient outcomes for patients affected by cancer. The company recently launched its “Living With” app for people with any type of cancer. The app corrals a variety of tools and resources in a single space to help patients with cancer better manage their daily life. It also enables patients to keep notes, store records, log moods and feelings, and ask for help. The patient’s data stays private with the patient and is not collected by Pfizer. The app has reportedly been very well received by patients and physicians alike, helping the company to build trust and credibility within the broad cancer treatment community.