Interview with André Heeg

Interview with André Heeg

Check out the interview with André Heeg, Head of Digital at Sandoz

What is your elevator pitch? What do you do?

At Sandoz, we are all about increasing access to medicines. We aspire to become a leader in digital medicine because we know the impact for people around the world of having access to these therapies. Leaning on our leadership in generic and biosimilar drugs, as well as past experiences from our colleagues in other industries, we’re improving the way we innovate, operate and sell everything using digital methods. We’re convinced that digital therapies will be the future of healthcare and a new modality to improve care for patients. We are looking to join forces with pioneers in this field to drive forward the development, approval and commercialisation of digital therapies. As our digital champion, I’m always available to discuss the potential and identify opportunities.

What will be your key messages for the audience?

We welcome a future in which patients will be treated and cared for with digital therapies alongside traditional medicines. The field is still quite new, and many things need to be pioneered across research & development, regulation and commercialisation. Learning from our past successes, we want to be a strong partner in identifying the speediest and most effective ways to make digital therapies accessible to patients and become the new normal for as many people as possible.

What do you see as digital healthcare’s biggest challenges looking into 2019?

We must collaborate to build further acceptance within the complex healthcare landscape. As an industry, we are traditionally slow and hesitant in adapting to new technologies. Additionally, we know regulators, payers, doctors and pharmacies tend to lag behind when it comes to changing processes and leapfrogging into the future. The general public (i.e. patients) are faster in adapting to a changing world and that must be our inspiration. We must think about the way we communicate with each other and manage our everyday lives – everything becomes digital and virtual. Did you know that to get a medical report from one doctor to another, a printed copy is still shared in many cases? Digital solutions and therapies have to prove that they can be as equally reliable!

We must support each other to show what’s already working and being tested

What of that can be achieved or managed in 2019?

We must support each other to show what’s already working and being tested. We have a joint responsibility to prove and demonstrate the clear advantages and positive outcomes that digital healthcare will provide. Furthermore, it’s paramount that we foster creativity! We must ideate how to expand traditional approval pathways to accommodate digital therapies, including trial design, working with regulators, commercialisation models, product advancements and updates, and real world data usage, to name a few. Let’s work together in 2019 to make these happen!

In the tech sector we are talking a lot about AI at the moment What is your take on its role in healthcare?

We all know the possibilities, and the areas of application are tremendous with AI. We are just seeing the beginning of it and already have large amounts of data in a complex environment, with a high degree of standardised processes. It’s hard to imagine a situation more ideal for AI – where a machine can be trained or trains itself to complete tasks more efficiently and reliably at lower cost with fewer errors. With increasing computing power at declining costs, we will see more and more use cases. At Sandoz, we believe in the power of automation and predictive decision making through AI and we are testing its use in multiple areas. I’m really looking forward to learning where others are applying it at the conference!

The interview has been originally published on the special issue of CoFounder .