A subset of digital health, digital therapeutics (DTx), are evidence-based therapeutic interventions driven by high-quality software programs to prevent, manage, or treat a medical disorder or disease. DTx are regulated by the FDA the same as medical devices and are most frequently categorized by regulatory jurisdictions as a subset of Software as a Medical Device (SaMD).
With the global DTx market skyrocketing, many life sciences organizations (LSOs) are developing meaningful DTx that can reach rural communities, treat common chronic diseases, and connect patients to providers through technology that supports all stages of clinical journeys.
DTx are changing how patients manage their health outside the traditional care delivery setting. Gartner predicts that digital therapeutics will be mainstream in the next five to 10 years, forcing life science commercial operations to implement new technologies that can engage patients and produce data-driven insights. A comprehensive strategy that pairs DTx with patient engagement best practices drives equitable healthcare and presents opportunities to expand DTx to other populations for successful disease management.
Digital apps, fitness trackers, wellness and therapy sites, and thousands of other programs have revolutionized how consumers access and digest healthcare information. DTx are recognized as medical devices and therefore are subject to various internationally recognized standards and national and local regulations.
LSOs–including digital therapeutics, pharmaceuticals, specialty pharmacies, biotechnology and medical device companies–are finding innovative ways to advance the development of and deploy DTx effectively across patient populations. Whereas medications may have been the only choice in treating certain diseases or diagnoses, clinicians can now incorporate digital products in the patient’s therapy to achieve their clinical goals.
A patient engagement platform correlates to high utilization of the DTx and improved clinical outcomes. Patient engagement technology should include guiding patients through enrollment prompts, completing insurance verification, and supporting patients throughout their treatment through surveys and other check-ins. A data tracking mechanism for DTx in at-home uses will provide important utilization information for clinicians and LSOs.
Global pharmaceutical and healthcare company AmerisourceBergen recently announced the launch of a Digital Therapeutics Platform, DTx Connect. According to AmerisourceBergen, DTx Connect is a fully integrated ordering, dispensing, and fulfillment platform that aims to facilitate patient access to physician-ordered digital therapeutics and diagnostics. The platform seamlessly integrates with electronic medical records (EMRs), enabling physicians to easily access and prescribe DTx through their e-prescribing workflow and monitor patient fulfillment.
DTx Connect includes patient support services delivered via text, a digital companion app, and phone calls with clinical teams, which aim to simplify the adoption and onboarding process, keep patients engaged throughout the treatment journey and monitor and manage adherence.
Closing the gap in physician engagement, providers receive patient status alerts, including notifications for patient fulfillment. The increased visibility throughout the patient journey enables physicians to make more informed engagement and care plan decisions supporting the prescribed therapy regimen.
A higher level of patient engagement supports LSOs and providers in capturing and managing the DTx device or program data. DTx Alliance, a global nonprofit trade association of industry leaders and stakeholders engaged in the evidence-driven advancement of digital therapeutics, shares that no matter how many components are integrated into a DTx product, all product developers must engage end users—including patients, caregivers, and clinicians—every step of the way.
For example, Twistle™ by Health Catalyst, the customizable disease-agnostic patient engagement platform for DTx Connect, is the conduit between patients and their engagement with DTx. Twistle supports patient onboarding and easily helps patients initiate therapy. Engagement platforms like Twistle can also assist in motivating patients to use their DTx, which will contribute to the technology’s success and, ultimately, patient outcomes. Digital engagement tools drive the continuous use of DTx for high-value and high-quality care.
Strategies incorporating targeted and customized patient outreach will increase disease management compliance and reduce healthcare costs, which is how healthcare providers and alliances can measure their progress.
Providers are incorporating DTx into their treatment plans for population health management and targeting specific diseases, such as diabetes or mental health conditions. Patients in rural communities also benefit from DTx as the digital divide often separates easy access to quality healthcare.
While older and underserved populations may be most susceptible to diseases, adopting and utilizing DTx products due to low or unknown technology literacy is a significant concern for providers. DTx products can address critical gaps in care for underserved populations, regardless of patient age, language, culture, income, disease state, or geography.
DTx also fills the gap in healthcare access for younger adults who are less likely to seek medical care at a physician’s office and more likely to use digital solutions like DTx to manage their healthcare.
The adoption and utilization of DTx reaches far across patient populations and care journeys. DTx efficacy can be limited without strategic planning and partnerships for patient outreach, clinician engagement, and data tracking. DTx will advance accessibility to innovative products that improve clinical outcomes when patients are encouraged and actively engaged. Incorporating technology that can guide patients through device registration, insurance verification, survey prompts, and much more will yield better clinical outcomes, DTx utilization, and value proof for providers and LSOs.
To better understand how to effectively leverage patient engagement tools into your DTx strategies, download our guide: Using Digital Therapies and Patient Engagement to Improve Clinical Outcomes.
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