Digital therapeutics are emerging as a novel treatment modality for a wide range of health conditions, either alone or in conjunction with other treatments. Providers and other stakeholders are using digital health technologies to reduce inefficiencies, improve access, reduce costs, increase quality, and make medicine more personalized. During a presentation at AMCP eLearning Days, Theresa Juday, RPh, director of specialty product, and Christine Sawicki, RPh, MBA, CLSSMBB, senior director of specialty product, both of CVS Health,discussed opportunities for integrating these treatments into patient care.
The World Health Organization defines digital health as: “The field of knowledge and practice associated with the development and use of digital technologies to improve health.” The FDA says it “provide(s) new options for facilitating prevention, early diagnosis of life-threatening diseases, and management of chronic conditions outside of traditional care settings.”
Examples of digital health include devices and wearables to continuously monitor an individual’s activities, such as a Fitbit or the Apple Watch. Telehealth is also a growing form of digital health, during which health care can be provided remotely.
In 2019, $7.4 billion was invested in digital health, and according to a Rock Health Report, 42% of people reported using some kind of digital health tracking, 33% owned a wearable tracker, and 32% used telemedicine.
A digital therapeutic delivers an evidence-based therapeutic intervention to patients that is driven by high-quality software programs to present, manage, or treat a medical disorder or disease. These can be used independently or combined with medications, devices, or other therapies to optimize patient care and health outcomes.
The speakers then gave examples of digital therapeutic options for various conditions. For chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, there is software and hardware to improve control and optimize health care utilization. For substance use disorder, there is an app to optimize therapy as an adjunct to standard, outpatient treatment. For neurologic injury or disease, there is software and hardware that provides music therapy to address motor, speech, and cognitive dysfunction. For pediatric behavioral health issues, there is an artificial intelligence (AI) software that provides diagnostic and personalized care.
These therapeutic options support the move toward more personalized care. For example, they provide care independent of a patient’s schedule and in the privacy of their preferred personal setting. They reduce the stigma associated with the delivery of more traditional treatments. They also give patients, caregivers, and providers access to secure progress reports and updates on goals and outcomes.
Physicians can use these therapeutics to collect health data and assessments and expand therapy options, while payers can use these to improve outcomes by reducing overall medical costs, improving overall health and preventing disease, and potentially incorporating them into step therapy.
Looking ahead, the speakers said that in the next five years, AI will be integrated more into real-world data, and in the years beyond that, they suspect digital therapeutics will be integrated into all aspects of health care.
Presentation: Digital Therapeutics: Understanding the Emerging Product Class. AMCP eLearning Days, April 20-24.