Philadelphia, PA -- Anjali Trasy, the Global Head, of Patient Engagement Strategy at Sanofi asked has patient engagement come of age?

She said, patient engagement is a rapidly evolving phenomenon in our industry. It’s shaping the future of healthcare. Not too long ago we engaged patients primarily through co-pay cards, indirect mass media channels, branded brochures. Today the possibilities – from technology to partnership to personalized solutions -- are so much greater.

But have we done all we can to create solutions that are coordinated, comprehensive, customized and accessible to our patients?

To continue to advance patient engagement, Sanofi is working to create comprehensive views of patients and their environments. Specifically they want to have insight from five aspects of patients’ lives and needs:

  • Patient characteristics
  • Preferences and values
  • Healthcare systems
  • Social and work environments
  • All conditions they might be living wit

These are insights that are valuable at every step of the product life cycle, from exploratory clinical development to launch and life-cycle management.

The diabetes teams engages patients in three ways:

  • Generating patient insights through research, ethnography and social media listening
  • Product co-creation with individuals that know how to live with the condition better than anyone else
  • Patient activation including involvement in ways to educate people and build awareness

To build COACH, a patient support program for people new to insulin therapy, that insight-building including these very specific engagements:

  • Went into patients’ homes and healthcare professionals work environments to interview and spend time with them in the context of their homes and real lives.
  • Met with people who had created best practices in analogous behavior modifications, including Alcoholics Anonymous, alternative health providers, public defenders, etc.
  • Hosted live online chats with patients and HCPs to receive feedback on design iterations


Six patient-centric insights guided the development:

  1. For patients and doctors, success and consequences aren’t always tangible or frequent
  2. The doctor / patient relationship and communication are “stuck in a rut”
  3. There are significant gaps in product awareness and education
  4. Doctors and their patients perceive their challenge as too difficult so they’ve settled for good enough results
  5. Identity, family dynamics and culture play a critical role in perpetuating a cycle of trial and failure
  6. Patients conditions and attitudes with diabetes are complex, while they’re starting insulin it’s as if they are experiencing a completely new diseases

Patients used these insights to co-create key design principles that ultimately guided the development of COACH.

COACH is a support program designed to give first-time insulin users more ownership of their overall diabetes management goals. Once a user is enrolled, a Coach reaches out to understand the her individual needs. The Coach customizes personalized support that the member will receive via one-on-one phone calls, emails and text messages. The support can include taking insulin on time, refill prompts, fitness and diet ideas, and lifestyle change support.

From launch to December 2016, more than 42,000 people engaged with the program, Coaches made more than 80,000 calls, and more than 60,000 patients received emails.

Trasy shared member quotes like “The check-in calls and texts from my Coach motivated me to keep up with my once-a-day injections” and “My Coach provide me with knowledge and encouragement to stay consistent.”

After launch and early success, Sanofi continues to engage patients to make a good program even better. They use de-identified patient data to understand broad trends, get feedback from patient and HCP advisory boards, and conduct patient surveys and market research for even more ideas. 

*Disclaimer: Mentions contained in these posts do not indicate any association between the products and companies and INC Research/inVentiv Health. All details, statistics and figures are taken from the noted presentation.

About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for shaping the company’s perspective on the next era of healthcare marketing. Through thought leadership, strategic innovation workshops and new products and capabilities, Leigh focuses on identifying marketing approaches that will fuel that new era and generate significant growth for clients. Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for over 17 years. She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she had several leadership roles at one of our agencies, GSW. There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business. Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes. A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice, Leigh also was recognized as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.