5 ways digital therapeutics can benefit your clinic
Digital therapeutics have been around for quite some time now. However, one still flounders when it comes to defining the above. One confuses it with any component of the digital health landscape, be it telemedicine, diagnostics, or telehealth, to name a few. So, first and foremost, we need to define digital therapeutics as distinct from any other digitally driven health innovations. According to the Digital Therapeutics Alliance, DTx (digital therapeutics) is “a digital health category of products that deliver evidence-based therapeutic interventions to patients driven by high-quality software programs to prevent, manage, or treat a medical disorder or disease.” This is very distinct from digital medicine or ‘smart pills.’ The latter is a prescription medicine that comes in combination with an ingestible sensor connected with software to keep a record of patient compliance. But DTx is not solely about prescribing medicine or reminding a patient to adhere to the doctor’s prescription regularly.
Today, as predicted by soothsayers, there are more people over 60 than under 5. Life expectancy has increased, but the extra years that are added to a person’s life do not seem healthy and medically fit. It is the aging population that is a universal pain area. And the medicine men available are unable to keep pace. Joseph Kvedkar, a dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, advocated and propagated a solution to this shortage and unreachability- that is, Digital Therapeutics.
“The solution to that is what I call the one-to-many model of care,” Kvedkar says. To elucidate the model - the physicians’ reach is extended to address limitations of time, place, and personnel when it is healthcare delivery. “It’s about access, convenience, and efficiency,” says Kvedkar.
With Digital Therapeutics, health, ailments or suspicious medical aberrations can be taken care of without wasting time. With healthcare, time and continuity are of huge relevance. And this has been made possible with DTx. Fewer resources can be optimally used; efficiency and efficacy can be ensured.
What is Digital Therapeutics?
Digital Therapeutics is a high-quality software system specially designed to help patients manage and cope with health-related issues. The medical conditions and illnesses are treated, monitored, and managed through regular advisories on behavior recommendations, exercise regime, medicine intake, and so on. And all this can be done without the patient being physically present at the clinic or hospital. And it is the chronic disease sufferers who are a threatened lot. The medical practitioner must overcome the gap between diagnoses, treatment, and delivery, which conventional practices do not address quickly. In a nutshell, DTx is software and devices that read medical evidence and interpret and clinically evaluate the data presented to it. This can be used to diagnose and treat an array of diseases and disorders.
How does Digital Therapeutics work?
Digital Therapeutics is a part of digital health, but it is very different from diagnostics, telehealth, and other digital health products. It can treat, manage a disease or induce an improvement in health function, even prevent disease through changes in behavior and constant patient monitoring - remote or otherwise. For this, it has at its command wearable devices, telehealth, personalized medicine, mhealth, and Electronic Health Records. The burgeoning mobile technology and Artificial Intelligence have contributed much to digital therapeutics in everyday life. Let us just say that technological development has enabled access to data and, consequently, its analysis. From analysis emerges corroboration and diagnosis and, therefore, successful long-term health results. Turnaround time, taken for medical intervention, has thus decreased drastically. One only needs devices like personalized hardware, smartphones, and wearables to activate digital therapeutics. The growing popularity of DTx can also be attributed to the improved success rate of these medical interventions and their outcome in various chronic diseases.
To quote an example, a diabetes prevention study which had employed DTx showed that the volunteers had successfully shed an average of 4.7% of baseline body weight after one year of undertaking this mode of treatment. They continued with losing 4.2% after 2 years, combined with a 0.38% fall in A1c levels in the same time span. DTx has also been able to resolve medical needs that have not been met by traditional therapies and treatments. From the point of view of pharmaceutical companies, this particular leap in technology has facilitated extension in product lifecycles, differentiated products during the development process, and finally stood in for the lacuna in traditional medicine.
DTx solutions or medical interventions are delivered to patients via smartphone apps. It is something everyone has access to in today’s world. This allows the patient a certain level of privacy and easy accessibility of treatment without experiencing self-consciousness that comes from public knowledge of his ailment. A very private and personal means of treatment that completely erases the stigma attached to therapies for substance abuse or mental health problems. The Doctor or medical advisors use data from various trackers and health data from tests and make it interact with advanced software and analytical tools. Together all of this is pieced together, and the medical team can decode the patient's problem. He then dispenses specific advice that guides the latter in his day-to-day business.
A detailed diet, exercise, and stress management program is not something that a Medical practitioner can provide; sometimes due to paucity of time and other times due to lack of understanding of the patient's lifestyle. The DTx, thus, is a bridge that covers the gap and provides a personalized, ailment-specific solution in a patient-friendly way.
A list of diseases that can be treated with this mode includes the following:
- Atopic Dermatitis or Eczema
- Behavioral health conditions
- Sleep-wake disorders
- Substance abuse
- Chronic aches and pains
- Obesity prevention and management
How can Digital Therapeutics benefit Clinics?
It is now undeniably confirmed that DTx facilitates physicians and care providers make informed decisions vis-a-vis their patients based on evidence-driven actionable insights. This results in better patient outcomes. The latter could not be achieved hitherto with all the apps and software that were focused on doctor appointments, telemedicine, diagnostics, EMR (electronic medical records), or e-pharmacy. DTx works in the following ways:
1. For patients, it assures and ensures better health outcomes, and for doctors, it gives them the comfort of better patient management. A surgeon went on records to say that DTx helped him manage and monitor kids more efficiently pre and post-surgery. Other Doctors validate this claim with success stories about their patients who have diabetes, PCOs, Obesity, gestational diabetes, and pregnancy.
2. When paying a physical visit to their Doctor, patients have many questions relating to their health issues. The Doctors, in return, become hard-pressed for time per patient along with managing the smooth running of their clinics. The patient queries about food, exercise, mental well-being, stress, and other daily problems require a lot of time and a comprehensive and sensitive understanding of the lifestyle of each one of the patients. General blanket advice like eating, sleeping, and exercising does not work for all.
3. Often patients complain that their medical advisor is forever in a hurry to get rid of them, bordering on literally hustling them out of the clinic. This causes dissatisfaction among the people. So if an expert is assigned to address these queries, then the Doctor has more time for diagnosis and prescription. That expert is DTx. It fills the gap and increases patient satisfaction by enhancing communication and the exchange of informational advice.
4. Digital Therapeutics has the wherewithal to bring every healthcare worker, be it doctors, medical counselors, psychologists, physiotherapists, and so on a single platform. It can deal with the disease, the suffering time, and the convalescence without the patient having to move a muscle or the doctor having to bring his entire team to him.
During the pandemic, we saw that covid convalescents suffered from the virus's psychological and long-term physical remnants. DTx brought assessment and coaching from a nutritionist, physiotherapist, and even a psychologist to deal with patients, with very happy results. And this is not confined to just covid. The same model works for Diabetes, Bipolar issues, and even cardiac problems. Work is going on to bring the treatment of Cancer under this umbrella.
A lot of time and money is thus saved by the availability of DTx, at a click of a button on a smartphone.
5. Doctors can save enormous amounts of effort by using the DTx programs. These programs are equipped with tools to produce clinically relevant update reports for the doctors. This helps them in taking a call on therapy decisions or a change in medications. The reports that are generated by these programs dig deep into a patient’s lifestyle and progress, along with data protection. This goes a long way in improving patient outcomes, as has been proven indisputably.
With the advancement of technology, the health tech industry has seen a lot of new concepts and ideas revolving around digital health come into being. Digital Health refers to using digital platforms, applications, and devices to monitor, transmit health-related information to patients, and treat all health-related issues. Digital Health includes calorie counters, wellness, and lifestyle applications that guide people to maintain their physical and mental well-being.
Digital health products (a range of wellness applications, smart devices, and wearables) have been helping doctors manage, prevent, and treat several chronic ailments and have hugely improved healthcare delivery and patient outcomes.
A significant part of digital health is Digital Therapeutics (DTx) which deals with the delivery of timely diagnoses, treatment plans, and checkups to patients suffering from a specific disease or disorder- using digital platforms and other electronic means.
Mahalo Health is a healthcare platform that provides the industry with a fully equipped platform to store patient data, interact with patients and monitor their health remotely. From decentralized clinical trials to digital therapeutics and remote patient monitoring, Mahalo Health has the perfect technological solution to supplement your healthcare practice and engage your patients in a satisfying diagnostic experience.