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DGI Clinical’s purpose

Creating a healthier world by putting patients at the center of care and research.

Business with social impact

DGI Clinical is a boutique Contract Research Organization (CRO) developing tools for patient-centered research and care. The company builds and validates software systems for pharmaceutical companies to use in individualized patient-centered research. Based in Halifax, N.S., DGI has been operating for over 20 years and has undergone several iterations, from a focus on professional research services such as data analytics to licensed digital health and research products.

Their approach to patient-centric care and research is based on asking patients and caregivers what’s important to them and then tracking that over time to see if they’ve achieved their personal goals for their healthcare.

“If you do science and healthcare this way, by giving the reins to the patient or the caregiver, it actually improves their health outcomes in the end. I don’t know if it’s a lucky coincidence or the beauty of our business that our business purpose is directly aligned with a social purpose, but it’s a fantastic kind of marriage,” says Chère Chapman, CEO of DGI Clinical. “And the neat thing is that this isn’t something that we drummed up just because it’s good for society or just because it’s going to empower patients. It is because it has better health outcomes, and it’s also good for our business too.”

A great example of DGI Clinical’s purpose in action is their recently launched app SymptomGuide™ Alzheimer which allows caregivers to track their loved one’s symptoms, especially those symptoms most important to them. This helps facilitate the conversation between the caregiver, patient, other family members and clinicians. The app also provides dementia management strategies and other useful information to caregivers coping with the burden of this complex disease.

Purposeful strategy

While DGI’s purpose has always been inherently part of the company, over the past two years they’ve been working on sharpening their focus and becoming clearer on their purpose. By doing so, they’ve discovered that “our purpose is our business strategy.”

They spent time asking themselves “what are we most passionate about, what do we have the potential to be best in the world at, and what can make money doing?”  What they found at the intersection of these three questions is their core purpose – of patient-centric approaches to care and research.  And this is the core focus of their business strategy.

Chapman admits that figuring this out hasn’t always been straightforward. With the company having the skills and expertise to generate revenue in a number of ways, they’ve dabbled with various offerings over the years, and even found success with that approach. But she believes for DGI to grow in the future, they need to be laser focused on their purpose.

“If you don’t know what your own values are as a company then you have no ability to make strategic decisions,” she says. “There are always going to be tough questions to consider and tough decisions to make. But once you have those values laid out then the path forward is way more obvious.”

Research that matters

Their clear purpose also helps to keep them focused on the research that matters the most for the company and for the patients they help.

“There are a thousand and one fascinating research projects at any one time we could undertake and we are filled with PhDs and master level employees and others who are just excited by the intrinsic nature of the interesting research that we do,” says Chapman. “But because we know exactly where we’re headed, the research is all very aligned with that.”

Big ambitions

Chapman calls DGI Clinical “a small business with big ambitions.” As interest grows in the pharmaceutical industry to better understand how drugs and therapies work in individuals and in the real world, DGI is looking at how best to respond, guided by their purpose.

“We’re trying to figure out how to take our unique approach to companies faster and better than we have been doing in the past,” says Chapman. “We’re trying to see how can we do this at scale because we really believe in this purpose and this mission.”

If you don’t know what your own values are as a company then you have no ability to make strategic decisions.

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