A year of digital progress at Novartis

How Novartis AG chief digital officer is integrating tech into drug development

Novartis AG Chief Digital Officer Bertrand Bodson is capping off his inaugural year with the pharma’s first approval of a digital therapeutic and 10 deals under his belt to integrate new technologies throughout the company.

Having assembled a lineup of pilot programs and tools, his task now is to build scale to maintain the pharma’s pole position in the digital space.

Novartis has been an early adopter of digital health technologies. In 2010, it licensed ingestible sensor technologies from Proteus Digital Health Inc., and in 2014 it partnered with Google Inc. (now Alphabet Inc.) to develop a smart lens technology. It has also expanded its use of mobile technologies and social media to improve how it incorporates patient input (see “Social Service”).

It was the second pharma to appoint a chief digital officer to the C-suite, behind GlaxoSmithKline plc which named Karenann Terrell to the position in July 2017. Bodson took up the Novartis role in January.

Digital health is becoming a core element of pharma strategies as a means to improve the performance and uptake of medicines, and develop competitive, first-in-class or best-in-class molecules.

Novartis defines digital health as the application of digital technology to any aspect of the pharma’s business model. This encompasses data science tools to mine clinical trial results, sensors that can track patient outcomes in clinical trials or the real world, and digital tools to enhance manufacturing quality and speed. Bodson’s

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