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Digitech: Revolutionising healthcare

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Vineet Singhal, Country Head, Shire India, touches on the trends predicted to change the healthcare industry in the next decade and how companies are planning their go-to-market strategies accordingly 

An exciting wave of change is revolutionising the healthcare industry. We have already stepped into a connected world and will see further digital transformation in the coming years. Healthcare is going mobile, with mobile health app adoption rates higher than ever. Nowadays, consumers and patients are not only using their smartphones and smartwatches (amongst other interconnected devices) to monitor their health, but also receive expert diagnoses from remote locations in the comfort of their own homes. We are set to see artificial intelligence, augmented reality, internet and robotics playing a huge part in the healthcare sector. In the coming years, we also expect an increase in public-private partnerships that will make healthcare more accessible to patients. This will require government bodies and private organisations to come together and work collaboratively to bring system innovation into the healthcare sector subject to applicable laws and policies.

Tackling challenges

We are the champion for rare disease patients and have a long-term commitment to the India market. Currently, the biggest challenge is the lack of awareness and priority given to rare diseases and other specialised conditions. We are therefore focussing on three key areas: firstly to increase the visibility of these conditions amongst the medical community; secondly to improve the means of diagnosis for rare diseases, and lastly to ensure therapies can be accessed by patients.

We are making a concerted effort to nurture an ecosystem that supports patients with rare diseases and ensure these challenging and life-changing conditions are effectively treated. It is important to create more conversations about the issues surrounding rare diseases at various levels, including patients, doctors, the medical community and policymakers. Shire will continue to work with all stakeholders
to help make rare diseases a public health priority and improve their diagnosis and management in India – from undertaking patient outreach to awareness programs for the medical community, and engagement with doctors and policy influencers. In addition to the increased awareness around the disease, diagnosis, and management of these life-affecting conditions, we strongly advocate the development of national policies that support improved access to healthcare and health innovations for people with rare diseases.

We believe that government is making positive steps to improve standards of care and healthcare infrastructure to ensure healthcare is more accessible in India. For example, there has been an increase in the provision of haemophilia treatment around the country and this has increased from just three states 10 years ago, to 22 states today. Government is playing a pivotal role in patient’s disease journey, helping to ensure patients with haemophilia do not suffer from a lack of access to the clotting factors they need.

We are committed to bringing our innovative products and support services to patients affected by rare diseases in India and will continue to work with all stakeholders to help make rare diseases a public health priority and improve diagnosis and management– from undertaking patient outreach to awareness programs for the medical community, and engagement with doctors and policy influencers.

Go-to-market strategy in India for FY17-18

It is estimated that one in 20 Indians is living with a rare disease, that’s around 70 million people across the country. These figures do not reflect the untold number of family members and friends who watch a loved one struggle with health challenges that, in many cases, cannot be adequately addressed today, especially considering nearly half of the time these loved ones are children.

At Shire, we meet that challenge head on by committing ourselves fully to the fight against rare diseases. We believe that creating a supportive environment for people with rare diseases requires a comprehensive approach encompassing awareness, education, diagnosis, and infrastructure to access the right treatment options. For example, leveraging our heritage and experience in haemophilia, we are collaborating with healthcare professionals, healthcare providers, patient organisations and other stakeholders to expand haemophilia education at the national and regional level, with a goal of improving understanding and knowledge of the disease, encouraging early diagnosis and enhancing the standard of treatment and care. Soon, we will be introducing a haemophilia support programme to provide assistance to patients and their care-givers.

This includes:

  • High-quality information to help disease understanding and its daily management
  • Education and awareness on symptom, treatment protocols
  • Injection and infusion training by nurses
  • Physiotherapy and homecare assistance
  • Coaching and counselling to support everyday living with haemophilia. Well being programmes to help alleviate the burden of symptoms
  • Care coordination (by acting as the primary contact for multiple stakeholders)

We are working relentlessly to expand our footprint to support more patients in India. We are focussing on other rare diseases too and will be soon launching products for lysosomal storage disorders. Today, our pipeline is the deepest and most innovative in Shire’s history. We are conducting over 46 research programmes globally and have more than 40 clinical trials underway. We are also using strategic partnerships, acquisitions and licensing globally to seek out new innovation opportunities, further develop our core therapeutic areas and expand into adjacent diseases, to create the most value for our patients and partners. We are and will continue to strive, to be the partner of choice for companies seeking to develop and commercialise innovative therapies for rare diseases.

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