Aim to on-board 300 clinics and hospitals over next three years; app tracks diabetes data and allows for sharing with caregivers and HCPs; Sanofi continuing diabetes digital health investment
MobiHealthNews just reported that Taiwan-based digital health company Health2Sync and Sanofi are partnering to support the distribution and adoption of the Health2Sync app (App Store, Google Play) and HCP platform in Taiwan. This partnership with Sanofi follows a series of partnerships for Health2Sync: one with Novo Nordisk in Japan in March 2019 and another with Fitbit in Japan and Taiwan in September 2019, as well as a slew of related pharma and payer partnerships over the years, including Ascensia, OneTouch, Cigna, Abbott, MetLife Hong Kong, and Taiwan’s Ministry of Health.
Over the next three years, Health2Sync will work on bringing its diabetes patient management software to 300 Sanofi-contracted clinics and hospitals in Taiwan that are certified by Taiwan Diabetes Shared Care Network. The software will assist providers in determining who should be started on insulin and in calculating insulin doses, including titration, based on a patient’s health data. We are elated to hear this – there are so many not on insulin who could benefit from it, not on the right basal dose who are on basal, not on MDI who could benefit from it, etc. Patients with diabetes will receive the Health2Sync mobile app, which can sync data from a large list of connected BGMs (including the popular Accu-Chek, Contour, OneTouch, Abbott, and other meters), blood pressure monitors, and weight scales (see compatibility list here). We are very happy to hear this since historically even when patients have connected meters, they don’t always “connect” in the cloud to download data, and this may be a key motivator.
While it was positive to hear that users can also manually record activities, meals, and other information, we know that manually doing anything with diabetes is hard, and that when things can happen passively, that’s so much better. For now, with the uploaded data, the mobile app can provide a number of insights and trends, such as Time in Range and average glucose at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The app also provides some automated tips, depending on what food information is input manually (e.g., “You’ve recently recorded three bedtime readings lower than your target range. You may want to appropriately increase your carbohydrate intake after dinner” – or, more likely, “You’ve recently recorded three bedtime readings higher than your target range. You may want to appropriately reduce your carbohydrate intake after dinner or try taking a walk and looking to see what differences emerge!”).
The basic app is free, and a premium version including personalized monthly reports, real-time data analysis, unlimited PDF reports, and educational content is $2.50-$3.00 per month in the US. The app already has very strong reviews (4.7/5 stars on the App Store and 4.5/5 stars on Google Play) and “500,000+ installs” on Android alone – impressive! As of 2019, the app was the number one diabetes app in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Malaysia in terms of downloads and ratings. We are looking into how many are paying for the app vs. getting the free version – most of all, we’d like to find the data on engagement.
In Taiwan, the partnership has three main goals: (i) to improve patients’ understanding of insulin; (ii) to increase glucose management; and (iii) to raise the insulinization rate in Taiwan. This is particularly important given evidence of poor glucose management in Taiwan and very low insulin uptake. In 2019, the Taiwan Association of Diabetes Educators published in the “2019 Diabetes Atlas: achievements and challenges in diabetes care in Taiwan”, showing that of the 2.2 million people with diabetes in Taiwan, 60% do not achieve the standard goal of A1c <7% and that the rate of insulin use is just 12%. While resistance to insulin initiation is hardly unique to Taiwan, nor are poor population-level A1c outcomes, we believe more apps that are easy to use and understand will definitely be on the rise, particularly with more public pressure for people with diabetes to reach better management and outcomes. To that end, we’re very encouraged by partnerships like this and Roche’s work on its InsulinStart service. Finally, MobiHealthNews notes that the partnership is “starting in Taiwan,” suggesting that it will perhaps extend into other geographies in the future – from our view, the obvious question was, when can this start in the US, and how to make sure payers are covering the use of this app.
In another encouraging sign, the partnership also reinforces continued investment in Sanofi in diabetes, in digital health, one of the company’s clear priorities. As a reminder, the company’s 2019 announcement that it was suspending diabetes-related R&D – this related from our perspective to therapy compounds. There was around the same time a restructuring of its involvement in the Onduo virtual clinic – while that seemed to be related, we would still imagine that Sanofi is still invested in research related to healthcare delivery. The partnership with Health2Sync certainly signals Sanofi’s commitment to getting more people on insulin and helping improve outcomes for those already on insulin. Projects in Sanofi’s digital health ecosystem include a connected pen (announced at ATTD 2019) and the company’s existing insulin adjustment app, My Dose Coach. The company has also made several commitments to strengthening its patient access programs – it was the first to offer as much insulin is needed to patients whose income is at 400% of the federal poverty limit or lower and we have written at some length about these innovative programs that were widely admired and then copied throughout the field. Of note, Lilly recently launched a new and very valuable competitive PAP – all insulins that are needed are available for $35/month, with virtually no limitations.
--by Katie Mahoney, Albert Cai, and Kelly Close