The European health tech scene is not short on start-ups with ambition, vision and drive, but when commentators are asked to pinpoint a world-leading, solid gold success story, the company on everyone’s lips at the moment is mySugr.
Formed in 2012 by Frank Westermann, Fredrik Debong, Gerald Stangl and Michael Forisch, the Vienna-based company’s diabetes app – also called mySugr – has more than 1.4 million users.
It was started just as the mobile app boom began, when mySugr’s founders – half of whom live with diabetes themselves – found that the therapy management tools available to people with diabetes were just not up to scratch.
Now, from its starting point as a single app, mySugr covers all-round care for people with diabetes, with a portfolio of services that combine coaching, therapy management and automated test-strips delivery right to the customer’s doorstep together with comprehensive data tracking. It also integrates with a growing number of medical devices to ease the daily burden of living with the condition.
Today the company sends thousands of automated emails and notifications with insights, education and guidance each day. With one third of the company living with diabetes themselves, the company is keenly aware of the need to ‘speak diabetes’ in communications with its users.
Looking after its user base in this way has ensured a loyal following for the company and made it increasingly attractive to investors, with its early partners including the Roche Venture Fund. Building on its corporate venture fund involvement, the Swiss company decided to acquire mySugr last year for an undisclosed amount and make it a key part of a new patient-centered digital health ecosystem in diabetes care.
To many observers, that deal marked the health tech exit of 2017 and kick-started a period of rapid growth for mySugr, as business development director Gabriel Enczmann told pharmaphorum.
For its part, Roche was looking to mySugr to help it offer “seamlessly accessible patient solutions within an open ecosystem.” Consequently, mySugr remains a separate legal entity with future plans that focus squarely on its bundle of services, which remain agnostic with regards to the companies it works with.
Gabriel explained, “We have recently launched an insurance deal in Bavaria that is offering the mySugr Bundle to its patients, who can choose between a glucose meter from Roche Diabetes Care and a glucose meter from Ascensia Diabetes Care. There is really a high commitment from Roche to our common vision of building an ‘open ecosystem’ and we’re happy that we can still call ourselves a neutral platform.”
Looking to the company’s next moves, Gabriel noted: “We are currently scaling mySugr and going beyond our initial core markets. To do that, we really needed to have product and business development power and marketing operations. Now we are able to move things forward.” Working with Roche’s existing global network of affiliate offices allows the mySugr team to strengthen its presence in more countries around the globe.
In addition to its broader plan of continuing to maintain its open platform and attracting more patients to it, mySugr is eyeing a twin-track plan.
“On the one hand, we want to further simplify life with diabetes, working towards data being collected and analysed automatically, putting the data into context thus providing our users with valuable insight into their individual therapy patterns. That’s the one side of the therapy where we’re aiming for really being the autonomous diabetes driver.”
“On the other hand, there are so many patients who lack things like quality treatment time with their physician. They are not reaching their goals, so we are aiming at providing remote coaching through Certified Diabetes Educators via smartphone in between doctors’ visits. Doctors are just not capable of taking care of their patients 24/7 all year round. So it’s really about supporting them to optimize therapy outcome.”
“In addition to that, mySugr wants to ramp up their offerings not just for the patient but also for the healthcare professional with the right tools and software to be able to do meaningful data analysis and to give them the right insights to treat their patients,” Gabriel concluded.
Gabriel Enczmann is business development director, Europe at mySugr. He joined the company from Sanofi in 2015 and before that held marketing and product management roles at Johnson & Johnson’s LifeScan / Animas and A. Menarini Diagnostics.
Dominic Tyer is a trained journalist and editor with 19 years of pharmaceutical and healthcare publishing experience. He serves as a contributing editor at pharmaphorum media, which facilitates productive engagement for pharma, bringing healthcare together to drive medical innovation. He is also creative director at the company’s specialist healthcare content consultancy, pharmaphorum connect.