Digital therapeutics vs. Telehealth: The modern-day healthcare solution

August 11, 2022

While online diagnostics, digital healthcare, and therapeutics had been launched to the world a little before the Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020, it was not as preferred as offline medicare. The pandemic brought forward the absolute need and necessity for digital healthcare, making its purpose felt in front of millions of people worldwide. Today, numerous startups and industry giants are carving a path for digital therapeutics by leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality to address lifestyle issues and various illnesses. 

Today, the growing power and popularity of digital health are rising exponentially and are helping people keep a consistent track of their health and wellness. Modern resources such as health management platforms, healthcare forums, automated robots, and more are prominent examples of how digitalized the industry has become since the pandemic. 

Digital Therapeutics vs. TeleHealth: What do they mean?

Digital Healthcare is an elaborate concept incorporating digital tools for online patient diagnostics and cures, running programs for patient wellness, and monitoring patient health online.

Digital Transformation talks about transferring the classic methods of operations online. Digital Health is the result of the intersection between Digital Transformation and Healthcare. 

Digital Therapeutics and Telehealth are two critical components of Digital Healthcare. While digital consultations and diagnostics are perceived to be the same to many, they are actually different concepts.

Digital Therapeutics (DTx)  refers to the treatments that are provided to patients while utilizing digital technology. It helps in improving overall patient health, outcomes, and behavior. Digital Therapeutics also includes helping people make lifestyle changes and other clinical conditions. Their progress is recorded on online platforms and shared via digital channels such as email and messaging applications. 

Digital Therapeutics has been successful in collecting large amounts of patient data for analysis of common illnesses, understanding patient behavior, creating preventive measures, progress statistics, and more. 

The concept of Telehealth revolves around connecting with patients through online channels such as video conferencing, voice calling, and instant messaging so that they can “see” them without paying an actual visit to the brick-and-mortar clinic. Telehealth allows medical professionals to address their patients’ concerns and diagnose their ailments digitally. For the last few years, doctors have embraced the idea of Telehealth by providing medical advice, reviewing their patients’ reports, prescribing medications, or recommending treatments via the abovementioned channels. 

Benefits of implementing Digital Therapeutics (DTx)

Digital Therapeutics have pushed the healthcare industry to research and develop prevention techniques for many diseases and lifestyle conditions, such as Diabetes, Cancer, Depression, Hypertension, Brain Health, and more. 

Following are some of the key advantages of implementing Digital Therapeutics: 

1. Increased Patient Engagement: Patients are given full-time, unlimited access to self-help resources, informative content to support their journey battling with their respective conditions, individual progress reports, and more. It connects with wearables and other electronics to track patient data and communicate with them accordingly. This is helped patients heal faster and manage their problems better. 

2. Promoting Non-Drug Treatments: Since DTx fosters the idea of online treatments, it has carved its way into non-drug cures, i.e., utilizing natural therapies and exercises to prevent and cure conditions. For instance, with the help of Digital Therapeutics, doctors have been using music as therapy for people with anxiety and depression. 

3. Improved Treatment Regularity for patients: With the development of digital therapeutics platforms, and applications, patients are more regular, engaged, and better informed about their ongoing treatments and possible outcomes. 

4. Medical Training at ease: Advancements in technology, and the development of digital therapeutics have provided the health sector with a variety of wherewithal for better quality education and training for the aspirants. A recent study discussed how implementing DTx virtual reality has helped surgeons hone their skills and physicians practice diagnostics and cures better. 

5. More comfort to the patients: Virtual Reality has grown into Digital Therapeutics. The VR-based DTx solutions are popular for providing comfort and aid while managing pre-surgery anxiety, handling chronic conditions such as Depression with the help of personalized therapy programs, and creating a virtual environment to prep patients before surgery. 

Benefits of implementing Telehealth

As mentioned above, Telehealth (also known as e-health or mobile health)  is primarily the means of connecting with patients via digital channels such as video calling and instant messaging. To elaborate, Telehealth refers to the utilization of digital information and digital communication, such as computers and smartphones, to provide access to healthcare services and manage patient healthcare remotely. 

Telehealth has ventured out into various healthcare fields. Some applications of Telehealth are:

  1. Wellness visits
  2. Lab Tests, X-Rays, 
  3. Prescription management 
  4. Post-procedure check-up 
  5. Managing substance abuse disorders. 

Below are some of the few main benefits of implementing telehealth solutions: 

1. Remote Care: Offline healthcare is infamous for its slow, delayed problem-solving due to external issues such as reachability, availability of medical professionals, weather, and more. With Telehealth, patients are provided with the liberty of “any-time care” or remote appointments, breaking the barrier of commuting and limited mobility for people, especially in rural areas. 

2. Efficient Care: Seeking healthcare has been challenging and time-consuming for many. Booking emergency appointments, traveling to the doctor’s office, and waiting in the clinic before finally getting diagnosed and treated is a strenuous exercise, especially for patients suffering from a chronic illness. Telehealth has provided these patients a respite from such arduous tasks and opened their windows to accessible and convenient medical aid from the comfort of their homes. 

3. Better Provisions for Rural Areas: It is no secret that rural areas often struggle with receiving quality health care and medical help compared to the cities. People from rural or remote areas are often deprived of appropriate health services and thus suffer from deadly ailments and incurable conditions for generations. With Telehealth, doctors can provide medical help to people in remote areas where it is difficult to reach physically. 

4. Affordable Healthcare: Telehealth promises affordable and low-cost healthcare services to all since medical professionals don’t have to invest in clinics or bear the additional fixed costs of running them. Additionally, patients are saved from spending a large chunk of their money due to the emergence of Telehealth and remote consultations. 

5. Latest Treatments Available to all: With clinics implementing Telehealth in their portfolios, various healthcare solutions are available to patients. Patients are given access to applications and platforms to track the status of their conditions, download reports and analyses, and talk to their medical consultants. They are also consistently reminded of their appointments, due check-ups, and more. 

Final Thoughts

Telehealth enables healthcare professionals to connect easily with patients without the unwanted location barrier. The concept opens doors to exchanging communication and engagement and is a valued idea for healthcare delivery. 

That said, Digital Therapeutics deals with helping patients deal with their conditions and providing proper medical help and treatments. It is the subsequent step to Telehealth. It promotes an ongoing, personalized connection with the patient, with the help of trust and patient willpower, to deliver quality medical attention and support remotely. 

Mahalo Health is a Digital Therapeutics platform focusing on customized remote patient care. Our software and services equip medical health providers or industry professionals to build a trusted platform or application for their patients. Reach out to us to discuss the latest ideas for digital therapeutics with our team of senior engineers. 

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