President and Chief Executive Officer, Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd.
How does your international career experience inform your approach to leadership?
A diversity of experience and culture helps me think outside the box and bring forward new ideas and innovation. I was proud to join the Canadian team two years ago. I value their agility, spirit of collaboration and focus on patients – all of which enable us to work together with our customers to co-create solutions to healthcare problems.
What keeps you motivated in your role?
Finding purpose is key. The magic really happens when that purpose aligns with the organization you work for. In the pharmaceutical industry, we can make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients and caregivers. We all have close relatives and friends who have a better quality of life because of the innovative medicines that we develop. That’s what drives me.
What are the advantages of leading a firm that is still a family-owned business?
We are one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies and that’s one of the things that make us unique: we are still family-owned after more than a century. We have had an impact on human health and animal health too, by being able to focus on long-term performance rather than short-term profits. This allows us to take a more progressive, long-term approach to developing breakthrough therapies and health system solutions. Being family-owned also philosophically supports our commitment to partner for success to improve patient outcomes. Overall, it helps us achieve our primary goal, which is to find treatments that transform the lives of patients today, tomorrow and beyond.
What industry trends will have the biggest impact on plan sponsors in the coming years?
We believe technology integration in healthcare has the potential to maximize the value of therapies for patients and healthcare systems. We are actively preparing for a future in which real time data, empowered customers and artificial intelligence will dramatically influence healthcare and accelerate macro innovations. This is already happening in the area of chronic disease, which accounts for about 58 per cent of annual healthcare spending in Canada. Digital health offerings and virtual tools have tremendous potential to improve outcomes for patients with chronic disease and even prevent at-risk patients from developing chronic disease.
What fresh approaches are emerging to help plan sponsors with chronic disease prevention and management?
To bring new solutions to patients in the shortest time possible, we complement our internal expertise with the expertise of external partners. Partnership is crucial in developing the next wave of innovation, whether in science, digital solutions or other programs that help improve health outcomes.
For example, we know diabetes is a growing problem, with one in three people in Canada estimated to have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. Left untreated, prediabetes leads to type 2 diabetes in most patients within eight to 10 years. Research shows $29 billion is spent on diabetes care and medication in Canada every year. For plan sponsors, diabetes ranks second in drug spending and first in number of claims, which are growing at a rate of 10 per cent a year.
With diabetes having such a devastating impact, we wanted to support a solution that goes beyond a pill, and we’re doing that to optimize patient care and address the challenges of sustainability. We’re proud to partner with LMC Healthcare and Diabetes Canada on the Canadian Diabetes Prevention Program (CDPP), a free, evidence-based program for Canadians with or at higher risk for type 2 diabetes. Launched in February 2020, this is the first national diabetes prevention program in Canada, providing one year of individualized support from a health coach, as well as online education modules, group workshops and digital health tracking, to help develop new habits and behaviours. Early results indicate participants have seen improvements in health measures such as weight loss, blood sugar levels and cholesterol. More than half (55 percent) of participants with prediabetes at the start of the program no longer have blood measures in the prediabetes range.
How else is Boehringer Ingelheim supporting innovative health solutions?
It’s in our DNA to explore new opportunities and advance in areas where innovation is critical. Our focus on innovation allows us to develop new molecules in areas of significant medical need, such as rare diseases where conditions represent a small number of claims but are devastating for patients and put pressure on the marketplace. Also, we are working with innovation partners in the biopharmaceutical research and digital health sectors in Montreal to provide an advanced technological solution to help care for patients with multiple serious medical conditions. The Continuum research collaboration with the Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CRCHUM), Greybox Solutions Inc. and MEDTEQ+ is exploring how digital technology, including artificial intelligence, can support healthcare professionals in managing complex cases.
Another partnership I’m thrilled about is the PATHWAYS Indigenous Health Collaborations. We’re working with Indigenous health policy experts across Canada to close the gap in healthcare disparities for Indigenous people in Canada. PATHWAYS is funding Indigenous-led health pilot projects in four Indigenous communities to empower members living with chronic disease and improve health outcomes while respecting their culture and traditions. We believe these projects will make a huge difference for these communities.