Digital trends in nation providing “new opportunities’ for the healthcare services provider
China’s digital trends, the booming development of novel online interactive models in particular, such as live broadcasts and short videos, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, have provided new growth opportunities for healthcare providers, a top executive of Sanofi said.
Such new platforms where rapid growth outpaced any other part of the world can play a key role in raising disease awareness, reaching patient communities, carrying out patient education and closing gaps between patients and experts in the Chinese market, Paul Hudson, CEO of the French pharmaceutical company, said in an exclusive interview with China Daily recently.
“Livestreaming e-commerce was one of the fastest growing segments in China. Working with cutting-edge industry players, healthcare providers can engage patients from anywhere, listen to them, and probably give them a better outcome,” he said, adding opinion leaders can also share authoritative information through those methods.
“In some rural regions of China, where primary healthcare is insufficient, such platforms also provide opportunities to engage and reach out to patients. And it helps those patients to start a new relation with healthcare providers,” Hudson said.
Sanofi will accelerate the building of a digital healthcare ecosystem to merge internet technologies and healthcare seamlessly to drive the digital transformation of care in China, he said.
“We aim to build a strong foundation enabling the implementation of the company’s digital strategies and develop new digital business models by 2022, and offer refined digital experiences to improve profit by 2025,” Hudson added.
In June, Sanofi announced a strategic partnership with JD Health, a digital healthcare platform under JD, to leverage their strengths to promote strategic initiatives in five areas－prescription drugs, vaccines, consumer health products, medical services, and commercial insurance.
The partnership will cover a full-service cycle before, during, and after diagnosis. The two sides will also explore innovative payment methods, aim to improve the patient journey through online consultation, drug prescription, purchase, delivery, and disease management.
A report from consultancy Frost&Sullivan showed the market scale of online medical consultation in the country was 1 billion yuan ($156 million) in 2015 and surged to 22 billion yuan last year. The figure was estimated to rise to 198 billion yuan in 2025.
The market scale of the total medical e-commerce in China was 187 billion yuan last year and was expected to reach more than 558 billion yuan in 2025, the report said.
With 40 years in China by 2022, Sanofi has defined itself as a local multinational with the obligation to join hands with stakeholders from various aspects and propel the establishment of an advanced, integrated ecosystem in the country’s healthcare sector, said Hudson.
“We not only regard China as the world’s second largest pharmaceutical market, but also aim to be engaged locally and make contributions in interacting with the local research and development efforts, promoting disease awareness, and improving drug accessibility and affordability,” he said.
The company will ramp up efforts in more China-developed innovative drugs to benefit a wider global population and speed up product innovation.
Sanofi is scheduled to introduce at least 25 new products into the China market by 2025, covering therapies in areas such as immunology, rare diseases, oncology, rare blood disorders, neurology, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as well as vaccines.
“The speed of new drug launch in China currently and in the foreseeable future is outpacing many other markets, a result of the reforms of the country’s streamlined drug review and approval process,” Hudson said.
For example, he said two new drugs by the company were launched in China in 2017 and the number rose to six last year.
Two years ago, Sanofi kicked off an initiative to ensure more than 90 percent of its current efficacy programs in the global development plan were being run in China simultaneously. Such efforts accelerated the accessibility of innovative medicines to Chinese patients, Hudson said.
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