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 · By Eric Racine

A New Frontier of Collaboration to Improve Patient Health

Historically, when someone wasn’t healthy, it was easy for others to associate blame by thinking, “It’s their own fault, they don’t take care of themselves,” or “they don’t listen to their physician.” A person’s health has long been considered a domain of individual patient accountability. This line of thinking is beginning to change.

Today we know there is so much more to the story of improving health.  The challenge impacts each of us in many ways – as individual patients, family members, caregivers, members of the communities where we live, etc.  We also know that health literacy is too low. Two-way communication between patients and healthcare professionals needs to improve.  There is often a struggle to comprehend and adhere to care plans and medications, and it’s hard for patients to find resources to support them outside of the physician’s office.  There are countless other factors impacting health, making the challenge too big for any one person or organization to solve on their own.

Armed with greater knowledge of the challenges facing patients, we can now say that individual accountability is only part of the solution to better health.  A broader shared accountability is necessary – involving not only healthcare professionals but also caregivers, community resources, peers and social networks, employers and others.  More people and organizations are starting to realize that improving health is an enormously important issue that requires cooperative efforts.  For this reason, at Sanofi we believe the US is entering a new frontier of collaboration to improve health.  Personally, I find it both inspiring and challenging to make a substantial difference in this new, patient-focused movement.

You can see a prime example of this shift by examining the passion, capabilities and diversity that exists across the patient advocacy community.  Through online conversations, we have learned that patient advocates and companies like Sanofi are often working on similar challenges and initiatives to support patients – even those who are working in different diseases spaces.  We also know that when people with diverse backgrounds and experiences collaborate to solve a common challenge – such as patient health – it creates a great context for innovation.

These findings led Sanofi to conclude there are many untapped capabilities and innovative ideas across the advocacy community and the rest of the healthcare ecosystem that can materialize when people and organizations work together in new ways. This vision inspired our group to change the Advocacy Department in North America to the Partners in Patient Health team, dedicated to ongoing dialogue and collaboration with patients and the advocacy community.

The notion of collaborating to solve common patient-health issues has strongly resonated throughout the advocacy community.  We witnessed the passion and energy level of more than 130 advocates across multiple areas of health and disease, as they shared ideas for improving patient engagement in their health at our recent Partners in Patient Health 2012 Annual Forum. To further establish this appetite for change, Sanofi received 128 high quality ideas from 280 collaborating advocacy organizations in response to the Partners in Patient Health Collaborate | Activate Innovation Challenge, which asked advocacy organizations to propose new solutions to improve patient engagement based on partnerships.  We are seeing patient advocates accelerate health innovation by urging development models rooted in collaborations between both traditional and non-traditional stakeholders. In our current, dynamic health policy environment, we are seeing advocacy groups share perspectives to better understand and represent the best interest of patients.

The concept of collaboration to improve health is entering a new phase and will continue to gain momentum as patients, advocates and organizations learn better ways to work together. Rising healthcare costs and limited resources will propel this movement, as new forms of collaboration can result in efficient, innovative solutions for patients.  Collaboration is certainly changing how Sanofi develops and delivers health solutions focused on patients’ needs, impacting how we work with numerous partners to improve patient health.

I encourage you to continue the movement and share your stories and efforts to improve patient health. If you are a patient advocate, you can access the Sanofi Partners in Patient Health Digital Space at  You can also reach me directly at .

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