Rachel lives in the USA, managing a business as well as a hectic schedule for herself and her family. She also lives with type 2 diabetes, a condition that often has a profound effect on her daily life.
Controlling her diabetes is a lot more complex for Rachel than just remembering her daily insulin injection. It involves constant vigilance, including monitoring blood glucose levels and tracking other factors such as physical activity and diet that can change how diabetes affects her busy everyday life.
With so much activity in her life, Rachel at times found managing her diabetes overwhelming.
To help stay organized, Rachel has turned to technology, including health apps, calendars and reminders. While the technology doesn’t replace the need for therapies like insulin, it is helping Rachel to reduce stress and better manage all aspects of her life – including her diabetes.
“It makes me feel more on top of things,” she said. “All the info I need for my business, health and kids are all in one place. It has my schedule and alerts me at a glance which makes me feel more in control.”
Rachel is part of #InnovatorsbySanofi, which brings together a diverse community via a secure and private online space, with a shared goal of creating people-centric health management solutions for cardio-metabolic patients and people living with chronic conditions such as diabetes. The community provides patient perspectives to Sanofi, so that we can adapt and co-create solutions according to patient needs.
#InnovatorsbySanofi is an open innovation inspired community run by C Space Health, a company that establishes an ongoing connection between healthcare companies and the people they serve – providers, patients, and caregivers.
Technology to manage our health
The kind of technology that Rachel uses is transforming all facets of our lives, including the ways we manage our health. There are a variety of tools that can help us take greater control of our well-being and make managing our health more convenient. Sensors and apps can monitor our heartbeat, breathing, sleep patterns, activity level, posture and stress – and even help us to adjust treatments and communicate with remote care teams. The information from these devices can empower us to play a more active role in managing illnesses, and offer early warnings about potential problems.
Using technology to help manage our health not only makes more personalized care possible, it can also make a huge difference in successfully preventing or delaying the complications of many chronic conditions. This is particularly important for people with diabetes, because when the condition is not well managed, patients are at increased risk of serious complications.
Technology is a major driving force behind helping us find improvements in healthcare, so progress is vital to treating chronic diseases. They are now the leading cause of deaths worldwide, collectively responsible for 68% of all deaths globally1 . Coupled with an aging population, chronic diseases are also stretching global healthcare systems and budgets to the limit.
Solutions through partnerships
With almost a century of experience with the disease, Sanofi is a global innovator in diabetes treatment. Today, that includes finding ways to incorporate technology into the disease management process, part of the company’s larger digital strategy from the lab to the factory to the patient.
A key aspect of Sanofi’s approach in diabetes involves partnering with tech companies that have brought their engineering and analytics capabilities to bear on the disease. That takes advantage of the key assets of both sides, which has the potential to bring benefits to people living with chronic conditions faster.
“Combining proven diabetes care with technology can help us to make care more personalized, accessible, and affordable to the hundreds of millions of people living with chronic diseases worldwide,” said Gilles Litman, VP Global Integrated Care, Diabetes & Cardiovascular at Sanofi.
Two years ago, Sanofi and Verily, Alphabet’s health care arm, combined resources to form a diabetes-focused Joint Venture company in the US called Onduo. Earlier this year, Onduo delivered its first product in the US, a virtual diabetes clinic that provides people with diabetes a way to collect and analyze data from their glucose meters and other sensors; and the ability to interact with a remote care team.
Combining that with data from the health care system, the virtual clinic can better understand a patient’s health and health risk factors, track their progress, measure outcomes, and deliver meaningful insights to them and their providers. Medical teams can better understand and contextualize what patients are feeling and improve their ability to make diagnoses even before symptoms appear.
As a result, the patient can receive personalized care more frequently than they would with conventional doctor visits, and independently from where they live. Because the data is collected and transmitted by mobile phone, it also makes diabetes treatment more accessible.
“Too many people are expected to ‘go it alone’. We’re solving this problem by exploring technologies that can help people understand the state of their health and empowers people to better manage their health,” Litman continued.
In another partnership, this one in France, Sanofi partnered with CERITD and Voluntis to develop a telemedicine solution that can help people with basal-bolus diabetes adjust their insulin doses. The data also are supplied to medical teams so they can support people living with diabetes in reaching their glycemic targets. The solution was awarded the Netexplo Digital Transformation award, which identifies every year innovations in the use of digital technology, shaping the society of tomorrow, where digital technology is more and more integrated and individuals are more and more connected.
Developing through innovation
In June at the American Diabetes Association’s 2018 Scientific Sessions, Sanofi announced an agreement with Verily and Sensile Medical to develop and commercialize a new generation of “all-in-one” pre-filled insulin patch pump, primarily to serve people living with type 2 diabetes. The cooperation will combine Sanofi's expertise in patient-centered diabetes solutions and insulins, Sensile Medical’s leadership in developing micro-pump technologies for medical use, and Verily’s experience in micro-electronic integration and digital healthcare technology.
“Using an insulin pump could help patients overcome some of the challenges of conventional injections, yet more than 50 years after the first insulin pump was developed, they are still relatively complex and only used by around 1 in 1,000 people with diabetes,” said Stefan Oelrich, Executive Vice President and Head of Diabetes and Cardiovascular at Sanofi. By applying new technology, patients could instead have a smart, simple-to-use device that supplies the proper insulin dose.
That in turn could be integrated with a wider ecosystem of diabetes management devices, software and services, noted Brian Otis, Chief Technology Officer at Verily, again helping to build a patient-centric, personalized approach to managing diabetes.
“In 10 years I hope technology will help me with my diabetes by having a painless way to monitor my numbers automatically,” says Rachel.
Sanofi is keen to explore opportunities to collaborate with healthcare providers, the community, technology start-ups and others who share the ambition of creating innovative solutions for complex challenges faced by people like Rachel living with diabetes.