Sandoz Digital Health Initiative to Improve Global Healthcare

Sandoz HACk focuses on using digital health to improve access to healthcare.

Sandoz recently announced winners of the Healthcare Access Challenge (Sandoz HACk), which aims to use digital health to improve healthcare around the world.

The winners all proposed novel digital health approaches to connect patients with physicians and medications in Ghana, the Maldives, and the Philippines, according to a press release. However, the approaches all have the potential to be used in multiple other countries facing the same challenges.

Approximately 150 ideas were submitted from individuals from 30 countries. The 6 finalists presented their initiative to judges at Wired Health 2017, where the 3 winners were chosen.

"Despite all the advances in modern medicine, universal access to healthcare is still arguably the single largest unmet medical need for people around the world,” said Richard Francis Sandoz CEO and division head.

Although great strides have been made in certain fields of healthcare and pharmaceuticals, obtaining the necessary care may not always be possible for patients around the world. The goal of Sandoz HACk is to ensure that patients can receive proper treatment no matter where they live through digital health techniques.

"We believe that the biggest changes often come from amazing, small ideas - and that the only thing standing between a good idea and a great idea is often just a bit of support at the right time,” Francis said. “I see the future of medicine being driven by strong collaboration between healthcare companies and external partners. The Sandoz HACk is one way that we are trying to make this vision a reality."

All 6 finalists received feedback through OpenIDEO, which is a community of thinkers, technologists, and those interested in helping social entrepreneurs, according to the press release. Sandoz also provided feedback to the finalists.

Each winner will receive €20,000 and continued support from Sandoz to implement their ideas.

In Maldives, 1 out of 120 newborns has thalassemia, which is characterized by less hemoglobin and red blood cells than normal. This condition is serious, and 85% of children born with the condition will not survive past age 5 without regular blood transfusions. Due to the nature of the islands, coordinating blood donations is difficult, according to Sandoz.

The winners created a platform that links patients with a database of hospitals that send updates when they run a blood donation program. The approach would use geolocation alerts to let nearby individuals know about the program.

In Ghana, pharmacists are likely to work in more populated areas, and leave rural areas staffed by unskilled workers. The new initiative would connect pharmacists to those working in rural areas to create virtual appointments to discuss proper medication use, side effects, and more, according to the release.

In the Philippines, first aid skills are mandated in basic education since ambulances are unable to be reached quickly because of the distance and geography of the island; however, many individuals lack those skills. The approach for this country would use an application to help individuals access training to CPR guides, and notify emergency authorities, according to the press release.

"Increasing access to healthcare is one of the major challenges facing mankind today. No one person, or organization, can solve this on their own - that's why we all need to work together to find practical solutions to real problems,” said Roberto Ascione, CEO of Healthware International and a member of the judging panel. “That's what Sandoz HACk is all about, and why I'm proud to be part of this great new access initiative."