Sanofi: Medical Giants Can Also Dance "Online" in the Post-Pandemic Era
Date of publication: 2021.6.22, From: Harvard Business Review
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the advantages of online medical services have become more and more apparent. The medical industry is one that naturally has provides social value, while many Internet medical enterprises rely on platform advantages to actively promote the ESG concept. Sanofi, a global multinational pharmaceutical company, is actively promoting the digitalization process as it strives to fight the pandemic on the front lines, while actively assumes social responsibility.
Sanofi is utilizing advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, online diagnosis and treatment platforms, and clinical development programs to strengthen doctor-patient relationships, improve organizational efficiency, and to create a new development space for pharmaceutical companies. Furthermore, it has also seized new digital opportunities presented by the "Internet + Healthcare” initiative laid out by China’s 14th Five-Year Plan – which provided reference for traditional pharmaceutical companies to meet the challenges of industry and policy changes, and to find new sources of growth.
Deepening Strategic Collaboration in Digital Healthcare
The healthcare sector presents a large number of new digital needs in the digital economy environment. In order to seize this historic opportunity, Sanofi is actively promoting the digitalization of enterprises and industries. “As an industry pioneer, Sanofi China is working tirelessly to contribute to the realization of the digital China blueprint laid out in the 14th Five-Year Plan. We are accelerating our own digital transformation process and making full use of various digital innovations to improve patient prognosis and build a more advanced digital healthcare ecosystem," said Dr. Pius S. Hornstein, country lead of Sanofi China.
Sanofi's digital process starts with its’ areas of expertise. The company established a cooperative relationship with JD Health to create a new ecosystem for the sustainable development of digital healthcare, strengthening cooperation to promote standards for online diagnosis and treatment.
In 2020, Sanofi China became the first in-depth cooperation partner for the JD Health Diabetes Center, which served as an entry point to explore a new mode of chronic disease management based on Internet hospitals. In June of this year, Sanofi China and JD Health announced a deepening of their strategic cooperation in the field of health digital ecosystem creation, with both parties leveraging their respective advantages to cooperate in providing access to prescription drugs, vaccines, consumer health products, medical services, and commercial insurance. These initiatives will cover not only treatment, but also pre- and post-treatment periods, and comprehensively enhance the patient experience for internet consultation and disease management.
In addition to the cooperation with JD Health, Sanofi officially launched Amulet – the company’s first global smart healthcare project. Amulet will work with a number of strategic partners, including JD Health and JD Allianz, to provide patients with diversified healthcare security plans and more scientific chronic disease management solutions.
Taking a Long-Term View: Strategic Planning for Digitalization
By 2030, China is expected to become the first country to achieve total digitalization of the entire patient journey, and in 20 years, revenues from Internet hospitals may account for 17% of total revenue within China’s healthcare sector. The reshaping of the healthcare ecosystem has become a long-term goal, and healthcare service providers are looking for new partnerships along the value chain. “Sanofi established an independent Internet Hospital business unit in 2019, which laid a solid foundation for our ability to better serve patients after the outbreak of COVID-19,” said Dr. Pius S. Hornstein, “Sanofi’s early plans to engage in a process of digital transformation were based on its accurate anticipation of changes to the market: convenient Internet application scenarios will expand from physical businesses, such as fast-moving goods, to the service field.”
Today, China's digital healthcare market is still in its early stages of development, facing multiple challenges for which solutions must still be explored. Therefore, Sanofi is taking concrete actions to promote the development of digitalization standards to enable access to integrated solutions for disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and follow-up by patients and HCPs. In doing so, Sanofi has become one of the pioneers in exploring the path for the standardization of online diagnosis and treatment.
Many companies in the pharmaceutical industry have begun deploying transformative digital technologies, but not many have found their ways to succeed. The Harvard Business Review cited several cases of successful digital transformation, all of which feature clear goals, a design-based reshaping of experiences, and customer-centric approaches. Sanofi is committed to achieving a higher goal of digital transformation – one that empowers all stakeholders including employees, HCPs, and patients – by building advanced digital healthcare platforms, providing data-based insights, and creating an extremely attractive digital experience. Digital innovation can promote behavioral change and improve the prognosis for patients living with chronic diseases. Sanofi's experiences in China can provide strong reference for other countries that are just beginning their digital transformation journeys.
Transformational Roadmap Envisions a New Era of Healthcare
In 2020, Sanofi was ranked among the top 15% of the world’s most digitalized companies. For Sanofi, digital transformation is both an internally- and externally-focused process. Internally, digital transformation is focused on using digital tools to improve market awareness, integrate resources, and improve efficiency. Externally, it is focused on convenience and efficiency, creating new possibilities and realizing development goals by cooperating with cross-industry partners.
Sanofi’s digitalization is comprised of two phases: from 2020 to 2022, the focus is building a strong digital foundation and finding innovative ways of working. "By 2025, Sanofi aspires to become a fully AI-driven company, and to realize more than 100 million euros of incremental revenue or cost savings through automation, data-driven processes, and innovative digital services or solutions," Dr. Hornstein said.
With digital transformation, Sanofi has developed the following innovative business opportunities and business models:
Employee Empowerment: The COVID-19 pandemic has proved the benefits of telecommuting. Based on current experiences, Sanofi is reconceptualizing and deploying operational models that are smarter, more flexible, and closer to customer needs.
New Digital Business and Profit Growth Points: The traditional patient journey will be transformed by end-to-end embedded digital innovation. Thanks to the diversified talents of the Sanofi team, the company expects continuous innovation; and the deployment of Sanofi’s China Digitization Center, iHub, enables new business models to be incubated in a “sandbox” environment.
Enhancing Digital Capabilities According to Local Conditions: Sanofi is building a workforce with digital capabilities by offering learning opportunities including lectures, on-the-job training, as well as through digitally-focused talent recruitment. In addition, the company is establishing a technological foundation and governance model "suitable for China" to operate more flexibly and capture new growth opportunities.
"Data is the new oil, artificial intelligence is the new electricity, and internet applications are the new means of transportation." With artificial intelligence and 5G becoming the key engines for advancing the “Digital China” blueprint, digitalization is fundamentally reshaping our entire society, especially in the healthcare sector. Dr. Hornstein noted, “Sanofi will continue forging ahead with its digitalization strategy, driving the transformation and upgrade of the healthcare industry across all aspects. In doing so, we aim to achieve digital engagement with 3.9 million doctors in China, and to benefit more Chinese patients.”
“ 数据是新石油， 人工智能是新电力，场景是新交通工具”。 当人工智能和5G成为推进“数字中国”蓝图的关键引擎，蓬勃发展的数字化正从根本上重塑整个社会，医疗行业尤其如此。如贺恩霆博士所言：“赛诺菲将继续在数字化战略道路上砥砺前行，从各层面带动医疗健康行业转型升级，与中国 390 万医疗卫生专业人士实现数字化互动，以惠及广大患者。”