Vice President, U.S. Diabetes at Sanofi US
POINT OF VIEW
Changing the diabetes landscape from the outside-in
Talking with Dennis Urbaniak helped us realize how committed the team of Sanofi US is to connecting directly with diabetes patients in order to create a healthier, more educated community. Sanofi is not just working locally, but globally, from the outside-in, to better understand and analyze the needs of the diabetes world at large. In doing so, they are working to create change in a way that no other pharmaceutical company has done before.
What makes you most excited about your role at Sanofi?
I’m most excited about the fact that we’re working on a completely different approach, beyond the molecule, to a broader view of diabetes. We’re looking at this as more of a systems moderating service, where we are letting patients tell us what works for them. It makes sense to us as a more relevant system that lets us learn better what works for patients, which helps us understand how to best serve them. Everyone at Sanofi is aligned with this approach. We are all fully committed to this shift, and have a strong commitment to change in this area of direct outreach and communication.
What trends do you see currently in the diabetes landscape that are working to address the current issues of patient adherence and better health and lifestyle choices?
There is still a trend of what I call chaos. Within health care companies, everyone is talking about diabetes in some way, which is causing confusion for patients because there is too much information to sort through. They’re not sure what is important for them to know, so it becomes very challenging for patients to understand what they need. The second is an ongoing explosion of tools being developed, which I think can be leveraged more effectively and accurately. Because of these two factors, it’s important to spend time with people to see what best works for them and then use that information to create better programs.
The concern around providing care for the future is that there are not enough providers to meet the amount of care necessary. This calls for us to do more work on alternatives.
Sanofi has established an active presence online through Social Media that is reaching an incredible amount of people in the diabetes community. What would you say is working well with your social media outreach?
We’ve been very committed to make this a listening and dialogue engagement that we’re deeply committed to. We don’t view it as a promotional vehicle. It has helped us a lot in terms of knowing people personally. Using these vehicles as ways to have dialogue and to listen. Based on our listening engagement, it helps us know what discussions are on people’s minds. That has been very effective so far. We’ve received an organic acceptance from the diabetes community, which makes us see how we’re earning credibility and trust, which we value. We want to continue to get a better firsthand understanding of what people need us to bring forward, so we’re focused on gathering this new information.
What topics would you like to specifically be able to address through social media in the near future?
First, we know that diabetes is driven locally based on available resources in particular areas. We have a lot to learn about how to translate solutions to a local level. What can be perceived as simple things that aren’t being addressed, we can and want to help with. The second piece is how to help connect all info out there to some kind of meaningful feedback loop. What is going to be meaningful to that person in living with diabetes, and how we can share that info back and forth with those people. We want to reinforce the positive and understand how to continue to drive that plan over time.
In terms of innovation to create better patient adherence, what is Sanofi currently focused on to help bring innovative solutions to the forefront?
Our focus now is on outside-in thinking. If you look at the traditional approach from a pharmaceutical point of view in the past, the majority of programs have been failures. 99% of those efforts were all drug and brand focused. All you have to do is spend a little time with someone to find that it is not the top priority of an individual to think about what drugs he or she takes. That said our approach now is to reach out to different communities of experts to establish more comprehensive relevant solutions that address true needs instead of a particular drug.
What do you think about the concept of the Fit4D Pathways as a tool to help create better patient adherence?
I think it’s a great concept. The times I’ve had to listen to David and learn more about the company is very much in line with some of these things I’m speaking of. It’s a practical and comprehensive view to make a real difference. How you demonstrate that we’re making that difference over time and share that with people involved is really important and gives it a greater chance to succeed.
What do you want to share right now with the diabetes patient community?
I’d like to share that our commitment at Sanofi is one that is long-term and deep beyond our traditional approach. We’re deeply committed to working with partners, experts in other areas, in order to connect the right people together with heavy input from diabetes community. By working this way we know can change the diabetes landscape in the US.
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