Insights with Innovators

Our Role in The Future of Digital Medicine, Health Equity and Access

August 2021
christine franklin
Amy Turnquist
christine franklin

Amy Baumann

Steven Xie

Steven Xie


Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to host a webinar exploring how we can each play a part in improving health equity.  I was joined by a group of passionate experts on the topic of cross-cultural marketing who are already contributing to the effort in their individual roles. This was a jumping off point for continued conversations and content we will be providing to help our industry do this work well (and it’s available on-demand).

In speaking with digital health marketing visionaries, it is clear that the future of innovation must include addressing issues in health equity and access, which is where we are focusing next week’s (September 9 & 10, 12 – 1:30 eastern) DHC Virtual Summit with Otsuka Pharmaceuticals.  We have compiled a roster of speakers on democratization of clinical trials, the future of digital medicine, successful cross-cultural marketing partnerships, and the role of digital therapeutics in the patient journey.

Partnering with Otsuka

We are delighted to be hosting these conversations with Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, whose commitment to improving health equity is especially visible in their work in the mental health space. CEO Kibar Nath leads by example, sharing his personal experience in this YouTube video.  

In a recent LinkedIN article Nath wrote “Externally, companies need to get involved with mental health organizations that align with their values. We must immerse ourselves in stories we might not hear otherwise: unique patient perspectives that lead us to a higher level of understanding. Otsuka’s work with Well Beings and Mental Health America, as well as through the Sozosei Foundation, reinforce for me that medicine is only a small part of the solution. It is Otsuka’s belief that effective treatment for serious mental illness extends well beyond medicine, and other solutions and support are needed.”  

Learning from Early Adopters

Otsuka’s Senior Director, Digital Therapeutics Commercial Lead, Rohit Bansal will be joined by Shaheen Lakhan, SVP, Research and Development, Click Therapeutics to share learnings from the ongoing efforts between the two organizations to develop digital therapeutics in the depression space. Another collaboration to watch in the digital medicines space is the work in patient remote monitoring by Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Tilak Healthcare.  

Tilak’s Co-Founder, Edouard Gasser, will speak to the DHC Summit audience on the recent move to scale the effort globally after a successful launch in France of the OdySight medical mobile game. During the initial release phase with French HCPs, the OdySight app had average retention of 53% for three months, with active players on the mobile game have much better retention than non-players: 72% vs 34% at three months. Age-based distribution among OdySight users reveals that the most frequent users are between 70 and 80 years old. Remarkably, patients in the age group, 80+ years have a three-month retention rate of 53% (55% for the age group 65-80 years). Gasser will share learnings from the OdySight launch on successful tech & pharma collaboration at scale.

Bansal, Lakhan, and Gasser will be joined by DHC Advisory Board member Shwen Gwee (VP and Head of Global Digital Strategy at Bristol Myers Squibb) who will be framing the state of the industry with regard to digital medicine now and casting his vision for the future.

In a recent interview on his leadership in digital innovation today, Shwen noted “when digital was relatively new to pharma, we focused on why we needed to do digital. Now it’s in everything we do and it’s infused in everything we do. But when we think about digital innovation, we are going through the same thing now. We are helping people understand how to do it in a way that is meaningful, provides value, and drives better outcomes.

A Focus on Mental Health

According to statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 U.S. adults live with a mental health condition and those with depression have a 40% higher risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases than the general population. People with serious mental illness are nearly twice as likely to develop these conditions. Certain demographic groups are at higher risk, complicated by access to care issues.

To help provide a lens through which to view the role of digital health marketing on this complex topic, next week’s Summit will feature keynote speaker Solome Tibebu, a behavioral health strategist passionate about frontier technologies and solutions transforming mental health, equity and access. Solome works with PE funds, foundations, chronic disease companies, mental health startups, pharma, health plans and systems as a behavioral health technology subject matter expert. Her work has spanned behavioral health and human service consulting, venture capital, corporate development and various operating roles at behavioral health software companies large and small. Solome has also founded and ran a mental health tech startup and, as a former anxious teen, founded and ran the non-profit for ten years.

SOURCE: National Alliance on Mental Illness 2019, citations available at:

Solome Tibebu

“I want to shine a light around the challenge and opportunity to expand access to underserved populations in terms of expanding access to mental health services through technology and innovation.” – Solome Tibebu

If you aren’t already registered to join us for next week’s DHC Virtual Summit, September 9 & 10, I encourage you to set aside the time on your calendar and be prepared to kick off your fall with an infusion of inspiration and insights you can start applying right away.