The Evolution of Medical in a Digital World
Digitization in healthcare is revolutionizing the way we prevent, treat and manage health conditions. Emerging technologies not only expedite the development of new drugs, but also introduce a completely new class of therapies. Over the past decade there have been rapid advancements in the digital health space, which is reflected by the increasing number of emerging digital health companies and growing support from the medical industry and governments. As the expansion of digital health platforms become more commonplace, more pharmaceutical companies are aiming to bring support directly into patients’ hands and change how people experience health and care through digital health collaboration and co-creation.
What is Digital Health?
Digital health is the use of digital technology to support patient actions in health, healthcare, living, and society. The goals of digital health are to improve personal healthcare management and increase efficiencies in healthcare solutions through digital platforms. From the patient perspective, digital health means a more accessible, personalized, and actionable format that allows users greater transparency into their own health. From smartphones to wearables to app platforms, new digital health solutions bring valuable health information directly into a patient’s life instead of upending their routine to bring a patient into a healthcare setting.
By digitizing healthcare, it’s empowering patients to better track and manage their own health. From a provider view, digital health is also enabling healthcare delivery to be more efficient, improving access, reducing costs, increasing quality, and making medicine much more personalized and precise. Medicine has evolved to include digital means and patients are lining up for it.
Digital Health and Pharma
While digital health has helped to transform traditional healthcare delivery, it is also challenging the world of pharmaceuticals. Pharma’s involvement with digital health has fallen into two camps: 1) using digital health in the development of new medications, and 2) using digital health as support and guidance to patients taking medications. The latter form has evolved into a space known as digital therapeutics (DTx).
Digital therapeutics (DTx) uses digital health platforms to deliver evidence-based interventions to prevent, manage or support medical conditions. Evidence is growing that DTx used alongside medication therapy can improve outcomes, personalize care and decrease costs. Digital platforms have delivered similar or better results than the current standard of care. For example, Propeller Health’s asthma platform demonstrated a 79% reduction in rescue inhaler use and a 57% reduction in asthma-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations. The results from many DTx companies demonstrate why the market is estimated to grow to US$9 billion globally by 2025.
But there is more to its success than just creating a digital health platform that supports medication management. Successful DTx interventions must incorporate larger societal context and various factors that influence an individual’s values, motivations, behaviors and goals. The use of behavioral science to help influence and support positive patient actions are a core component to successful DTx platforms, a key component for Medisafe’s just-in-time interventions (JITI™) system. JITI configures dynamic patient profiles based on a combination of behavioral and therapeutic interactions captured in a digital companion. The system uses this insight to engage patients at precise moments to motivate or reinforce positive medication behaviors. This is an essential component in designing personalized solutions tailored to specific patient needs. DTx success heavily relies on its seamless integration into both the existing healthcare infrastructure and an individual’s habits and lifestyles.
Today’s Digital Health
It seems hard to believe that recent advancements in DTx and patient-centric solutions have measurably affected the overall healthcare experience of patients, physicians and caregivers. As digital health services continue to meet and provide the level of care that patients expect, it seems reasonable that 75% of all patients will use digital services in the future, as reported by McKinsey & Company’s international survey.
The use of digital health not only allows for the better monitoring of disease progression and general health tracking, but it also allows physicians to be able to provide better, more personalized care and diagnose patients effectively and efficiently through various ways such as access to quality data, interoperability and care delivery. Digital health solutions are also attractive to payers in helping to reduce costs, deliver more functionality, and streamline processes with low overhead. As new, patient-centric digital solutions mature, payers are increasingly evaluating their use as part of a reimbursable product, potentially as more cost effective than the current therapeutic options.
As more digital health solutions enter the market, physicians and patients alike are gradually adopting some of these technologies in practice. A growing digital health market is reflected by an increased uptake of new solutions to support acute and chronic care. Many patient-facing digital health products assist patients to improve outcomes through behavior and lifestyle changes, either on their own or in conjunction with existing treatments.
The future of digital health should include a wider connectivity that unites all aspects of patient care into one singular platform. A digitally connected healthcare ecosystem, from provider to payer to Pharma (and any diagnostics and specialty care) could be united and personalized to each patient through digital means. The state of medical care continues to evolve, and digital health is taking a prominent role in its future. By continuing to place the patient at the forefront and creating human-centric platforms that enable action and involvement of the patient, better outcomes and health could lie just over the horizon.