People, Tech

As digital medicine explodes in the zeitgeist of healthcare, Sanofi follows peers in appointing chief digital officer

Burdened with formidable challenges, such as inconsistent access and deployment of care in addition to the unsustainable cost of care, the US healthcare system has laid the groundwork for the use of digital tools to refresh the practice of medicine. In recent years, in addition to the penetration of tech giants into the realm of healthcare (cue Google, Apple), major drugmakers have also embraced the significance of these technologies, hiring chief digital/technology officers to usher in the era of telemedicine, wearables, cloud computing, machine learning and artificial intelligence. On Tuesday, France’s Sanofi said its chief medical officer Ameet Nathwani would also serve as the company’s first chief digital officer (CDO).

Sanofi follows its peers in making the move. Last year, Pfizer and Merck named their CDOs, while Novartis and GSK announced similar appointments in 2017.

Nathwani, who was hired by Sanofi as chief medical officer in 2016, is now also charged with integrating Sanofi’s arsenal of medicines with digital technologies and inking digital partnerships.

The promise of digital technology to potentially democratize medicine, enabling individuals and researchers to generate real-world data, is another reason digital health technologies are so compelling. In the UK, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt commissioned California-based Eric Topol, a cardiologist, author and digital medicine researcher, to carry out an independent review into the digital training needs of NHS staff. The report was released on Monday, detailing the promise of genomics, AI, robotics and digital medicine in the prevention, management and treatment of disease, and highlighted the importance of educating the NHS workforce of these advances.

Nature too has recognized the transformative potential of digital medicine. In an article entitled “Digital medicine, on its way to being just plain medicine,” the journal signalled the launch of its peer-reviewed journal focused specifically on the digitization of medicine last year.


Photo: Ameet Nathwani. SANOFI


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