Yacine Hadjiat, Biogen Digital Health Solutions and Medical Officer, shares his views of the digital health shift, the importance of public-private efforts, and examples of what is being done in France.
After years living abroad in different regions of the world leading Medical Affairs organizations, working with digital health incubators, startups and innovation governmental agencies, I recently made the decision to move back to France and join Biogen Digital Health (BDH). BDH is a unit of Biogen dedicated to pioneering personalized and digital medicine in neuroscience.
When thinking about science, what comes to mind first? I suppose it’s not often that the word “digital” makes a quick entrance. Naturally, reconciling science and digital is not so obvious. At BDH, we are convinced of the important synergetic role that science and digital have today and in the future to provide the best possible care to patients.
Having been in France now for a few months, I’ve noticed some unique initiatives in digital and e-health spaces that can (and will) provide the solid basis to build sustainable digital e-health solutions. It’s interesting to explore these possibilities and I hope this discussion serves with some food for thought.
Yacine Hadjiat, Biogen Digital Health Solutions and Medical Officer
I am a strong believer in the power of digital to holistically transform healthcare - from more accessible and personalized services- to massive improvements in disease understanding, digital therapeutics (DTx), AI, and more… but a great product is only part of the solution. In order for digital innovation to be sustainable in the long term, interoperability of the different players within the public and private sectors is key. I am excited that in France significant efforts in this direction are being made, supported by governmental decisions and policy activation. In my opinion, this is what will ultimately deliver value for patient care.
In 2018, BDH released Cleo, a companion app for people living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Today, the app has over a million downloads in 20 countries and was voted by neurologists as the #1 app for people living with MS*. Entirely treatment agnostic, Cleo provides its users with lifestyle tips for living with MS, access to adapted exercise and guided meditation programs, a nurse chat, and a tracker to input daily moods and symptoms, treatment reminders, and appointments. Typically, people with MS only visit their healthcare provider a few times a year. Cleo’s integrated tracker allows patients and their healthcare providers to get a clearer picture of symptom shifts, outbreaks, and mood changes over a long period of time. This year, we are working on Cleo's future, collaborating with patients and healthcare professionals to improve the product, through optimizing core features, and improving and personalizing the user experience. We are also working to enhance the value and usefulness of Cleo, by integrating functionalities that further meet patient and healthcare professionals’ needs.
How do we ensure Cleo continues to bring value to patients and healthcare providers in the long term? How can we raise awareness of such digital solutions so they are adopted and implemented? Our team made the decision to participate in a French governmental effort to co-create a connected healthcare ecosystem, together with other public and private players. The ambition is for a Digital Health Space (“Espace Numérique de Santé”) to be accessible to all 70 million healthcare users by 2022. Healthcare apps and digital solutions such as Cleo could be made available, including secure and interoperable services, in a shared store. Needless to say, we are very proud to have been selected among the 30 digital health solutions and providers to join this initiative.
In my opinion, it’s initiatives like these that will contribute to accelerating the availability, usefulness, security, and quality of digital healthcare solutions for patients. I hope France’s approach can be a role model stepping stone for others to tag along and co-create digital solutions to better patient empowerment. Together with my team at BDH I am looking forward to contributing to this transformation.