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Educate yourself and your company for a comprehensive evaluation of a potential partner

How can pharma leaders find the right partners to leverage new technologies?

A deep understanding of what it is that you actually want and need from a partner first of all is key, and then sticking to it is the challenge. Digital technologies are progressing very rapidly, and if you’re just getting into this space and looking for a partner to help you move forwards, it can be hard to know what it is that you really need and easy to get side-tracked by all the shiny new opportunities you might see. Investing some time in educating yourself and your company enough so that you can establish a deep understanding of what your organisation needs and focus on this, gives you the knowledge to dig deeper and ask better questions when evaluating a potential partner to address those needs.

What are the key success factors of a pharma-digital health partnership?

Similar to the previous question, that deep understanding of each other’s organisation is essential so both know what they’re getting into from the start. Chances are that both organisations will have some things that they do very well, and some things that they don’t do quite so well. These things could be related to any aspect of the organisation e.g., structure, processes, culture, capabilities etc. The more we truly understand all of the strengths and weaknesses, across all aspects of both organisations, the better we can align appropriate expectations, mitigate risks, and avoid unpleasant surprises further down the line that could derail plans and sour that relationship.

What innovations should healthcare providers and pharma experts prioritise?

I think in the future both healthcare providers and pharma will have little choice but to prioritise digital solutions that offer ‘true innovation’ – meaning the equivalent of what we might consider a novel mechanism of action in the traditional pharmaceuticals world, or something that is a treatment step change. Right now many of the digital therapeutics available are mostly just digitised versions of existing therapeutic techniques, where the novelty is essentially in the user interface or background algorithm that tailors the program to the individual. This of course can benefit patient outcomes through improved engagement or adherence to the therapy, but the core clinical intervention aspect of the product is not innovative and not differentiating. For now this is okay because the number of digital therapeutics available is still relatively small for any single therapy area, but in time, when you’re competing with 10+ other digital therapeutics that essentially do the same thing, we will need that ‘true innovation’ in order to differentiate and obtain a sustainable place in therapy for our products.


Elcie is also one of the speakers at our 2nd Digital Therapeutics and Pharma Summit on 14th – 15th September 2022 in Vienna, where she will present her case study on Pharma-Digital Health Partnerships: What Does It Take to Partner to Achieve Success Globally?

Elcie CHAN is an EU Commercial Director – Digital Health at Otsuka. She joined Otsuka in 2015 and has been leading the European digital health team since 2020. Elcie has more than 10 years of industry experience in a variety of leadership roles within commercial, business development, market access and HEOR, supporting Europe and other key Global markets. She is trained as a clinical scientist with a PhD in genetics.

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