Digital therapy: enabling patients to self-medicate in a home environment

Digital therapy provides patients with evidence-based therapeutic interventions for the prevention, management or treatment of mental disorders or diseases. Software, medical wearables, smartphones and other Electronic medical devices can work together to treat and prevent multiple diseases. Healthcare professionals will continue to find more ways to deliver healthcare through the integration of digital therapeutics to improve overall patient well-being. Future patients will be able to collaborate with their healthcare providers to heal themselves and embrace health with collaboration!

Author: Paul Golata

If you want to heal people, first heal yourself

Long before Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) conquered West Asia and Persia and spread Greek civilization, language, ideas, culture and ideals (Hellenicism) around the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf (Hellenicism), the phrase “doctor, heal yourself” The motto has already appeared. It is generally believed that the Greek playwright and father of tragedy, Aeschylus (525-455 BC) (not necessarily correct) used such a universal aphorism. Beginning with Prometheus Bound, the concept has been distilled into the proverb “If you want to heal others, first heal yourself.” The medical term “therapeutic” can also be traced back to the Greek word therapeutikos, which means “to care for” or “to cure.” In the information age where computers are widely used, this adage may need to be updated to “patient, heal yourself”.

Doctor-patient communication in the information age

“Doctor, doctor, I’m in pain when I do this…” “Have you downloaded its app?” Soon, for many common health problems such as cardiac arrhythmias, depression, and Parkinson’s disease, this may It’s a common conversation between doctors and patients. The app, along with wearable or absorbable sensors, will provide a variety of relevant data for medical professionals to follow. This article will explore a relatively new field of medicine, digital therapeutics (DTx), and explore how software and wearables can work together to help humans stay healthy.

The Technological Landscape of Digital Therapy

The potential of medical technology will be fully unlocked in the future to provide patients with a better connected treatment experience. Bringing more advanced medical care home to improve the quality of life will become a reality through digitized electronic solutions.

Advances in analytical computing, data storage, and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have made advanced analytics more practical. Personalized hardware, in the form of wearable medical devices, smartphones and smart watches, enables consumers to exchange digital information with their medical providers. Research data shows that digital therapeutics and interventions are actually improving the quality of human life. Digital therapeutics also enable the speed, convenience, and reduced human contact that today’s consumers expect. Digital technologies will transform the entire healthcare system in the coming years.

Digital therapeutics are just one part of a larger picture of digital health technology. In addition to digital therapeutics, digital technologies are rapidly occupying numerous areas of the digital healthcare market, including:

・ Devices, sensors and wearables: wearable and wireless devices, biosensors, diagnostic products
・ Health Information Technology (HIT): Electronic Medical Record Systems, Electronic Prescription and Order Entry, Consumer Health and Information Technology (IT) Apps
・ Mobile Health (mHealth): Health, fitness tracker and nutrition apps; consumer health information; medication adherence apps
・ Personalized Medicine: Patient-Reported Outcomes, Predictive Analytics, Clinical Decision Support
・ Telemedicine: telemedicine virtual visits, remote patient monitoring, telecare planning

Multiple solutions across the digital health ecosystem work together to deliver exceptional therapeutic outcomes. Large Enterprise Systems and Services Support provides a platform for healthcare systems, clinics and businesses to set up. Clinician Services and Support utilizes HIT and telehealth to improve physical therapy quality and workflow. Health and support services to patients in the form of devices, sensors, wearables, and mHealth that help capture, store, or transmit health data. Patient-oriented diagnostic and monitoring solutions for diagnosing, guiding diagnosis, or actively monitoring patients.

Digital Therapeutics Alliance

The Digital Therapeutics Alliance (DTA) defines the concept of “digital therapy”. The DTA is a medical industry organization with a vision to transform global healthcare by advancing digital therapeutics to improve clinical and healthcare economics. DTA’s mission is to enhance the understanding, adoption, and integration of clinically evaluated digital therapeutics by patients, clinicians, payers, and policymakers through education, advocacy, and cross-industry collaboration.

Definition of digital therapy

The DTA believes that digital therapy (DTx) is an approach to providing patients with evidence-based therapeutic interventions for the prevention, management or treatment of mental disorders or diseases. DTx can be used alone or in combination with drugs, devices or other therapies to optimize patient care and outcomes. DTx products incorporate advanced technical best practices in design, clinical evaluation, usability and data security. DTx products are reviewed, approved or certified by regulatory agencies as needed to support product claims regarding risk, efficacy and intended use. Digital therapeutics provide patients, clinicians and payers with accessible smart tools to treat a wide range of diseases through safe, efficient, high-quality data-driven interventions.

Fundamentals of DTx Products

DTA advocates that the development and design of DTx products should adhere to all of the following principles and objectives:

・ Prevent, manage or treat mental disorders or diseases
・Generate software-driven medical interventions
・ Combining design, manufacturing and quality control best practices
・ Involve end users in the product development and use process
・ Integrate patient privacy and security safeguards
· Apply product deployment, management and maintenance best practices
Publish trial results, including clinically meaningful results, in peer-reviewed journals
· Review, approval or certification by regulatory agencies as needed to support product claims regarding risk, efficacy and intended use
・ Align product claims with clinical evaluation and regulatory status
・Collect, analyze and apply real evidence and product performance data

DTx product category

DTA classifies DTx products into three (3) categories. These categories are divided by overarching goals, including treating, managing, or improving health (Table 1).

Table 1: Digital Therapeutics (DTx) product categories. (Image source: Digital Therapeutics Alliance)
Digital therapy: enabling patients to self-medicate in a home environment

The value of DTx products

DTx products using clinically evaluated, evidence-based techniques can:

・Optimize clinical and medical economics
・Provide high-quality treatment to underserved populations
・ Rapidly expand physician capacity and allow physicians access to relevant data through patient-owned devices
・Provide home convenience and privacy
· Transforming the way patients understand, manage and engage with their health care
・ Expand the capacity of clinicians to care for patients
・Support healthcare teams in environments with uneven healthcare infrastructure
・ Reduce overall treatment costs

Patients and Caregivers: New Effective Treatment Options

Digital therapeutics are clinically proven to use software-based technologies to treat, manage, and prevent a variety of diseases and mental disorders (Figure 1). DTx products provide medical interventions directly to patients or in combination with other digital health technologies, drugs or outpatient treatments to:

・ Improve patient health
・ Provide an attractive user-friendly experience
・Provide meaningful results and insights for personalized goals and outcomes
・Expanding physician capacity and allowing physicians access to relevant data through smartphones and tablets
・Ensure patient safety and privacy protection

Clinicians: A highly effective treatment option you can trust

DTx products represent a class of evidence-based treatment technologies that help clinicians deliver high-quality treatment to patients (Figure 2). These products offer a variety of software-based interventions for a range of disease states. DTx products can be used alone or in combination with other therapies to:

・Directly improve disease state detection and clinical outcomes
・ Let more people enjoy safe, confidential and efficient medical services
・ Provide treatment for previously untreated or undertreated patients
・ Expand the capacity of clinicians to diagnose and treat patients
・Optimize patient engagement
・ Make up for the shortcomings of current medical services
・ Reduce overall treatment costs

DTx products are becoming indispensable tools for clinicians and their care teams due to their ease of access, their ability to improve outcomes, integrate into care management workflows, provide real-world insights and increase payer reimbursement rates.

Policy Makers: Making Laws and Regulations

Policymakers at the local, national, and regional levels face a number of important issues, such as the regulatory certification of DTx products and the legislative actions needed to support payer public insurance coverage and patient medication use (Figure 3). DTx products can be more easily deployed to high-risk areas, rural areas, and underserved communities due to their scalability and easy access through patient-owned devices. These places are often underserved even at the best of times.

Payers: Clinical and Financial Value

The global pandemic has exposed the challenges payers face in delivering accessible, high-quality care beyond traditional hospital- and clinic-based access paths (Figure 4). Payers are now considering more options to best meet patient needs and make up for current health care deficiencies in non-traditional ways. By combining technology with evidence-based medicine, DTx products can provide patients with treatment for a wide range of diseases, enabling payers to:

・ Reduce overall treatment costs
・ Strengthen, support and optimize current medical services
・Optimize patient engagement
・ Improve supplier network efficiency
・ Support value- and outcome-oriented care planning
・ Expanding medical services beyond traditional clinics
・ Improve customer experience and satisfaction

Insights and information gathered through digital technologies are easily integrated into healthcare management workflows, providing payers with valuable insights that support population health management and value-driven care planning.

Epilogue

Digital therapy provides patients with evidence-based therapeutic interventions for the prevention, management or treatment of mental disorders or diseases. Software, medical wearables, smartphones and other electronic medical devices can work together to treat and prevent multiple diseases. Healthcare professionals will continue to find more ways to deliver healthcare through the integration of digital therapeutics to improve overall patient well-being. Future patients will be able to collaborate with their healthcare providers to heal themselves and embrace health with collaboration!

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