3 min read

Charting the Course: The Rise of Digital Therapeutics in Healthcare

Charting the Course: The Rise of Digital Therapeutics in Healthcare

Technological innovation has had an immense impact on healthcare delivery. Novel medical devices and cutting-edge pharmaceuticals continue to redefine methods of preventing, treating, and curing illness. Digital Therapeutics (DTx) are evidence-based therapeutic interventions that utilize software, often in tandem with other medical treatments, to prevent or treat illness. The FDA premarket approval process for these products is similar to the process for medical devices and differs based on the level of risk. These emerging technologies can improve patient access to high-quality care while reducing overall healthcare costs.  

The potential uses for DTx span a wide range of health conditions, including mental illnesses, chronic diseases, and pain disorders. These conditions can be treated by DTx through mobile apps, artificial intelligence (AI), wearables, and sensors. The continuous symptom monitoring offered by DTx can produce valuable insights for patients and providers, as real-time data analytics of patient symptoms can lead to improved treatment plans. Additionally, patients can utilize DTx to remotely communicate with provider teams and receive updated advice.  

More recently, DTx has been utilized to effectively treat and manage mental health conditions. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, some DTx products received emergency use authorization to streamline approval of psychiatric services. These approved treatments can manage conditions such as PTSD, ADHD, and substance use disorder by utilizing a module-based program. With 1 in 5 adults experiencing a mental illness, this has the potential to improve the quality of life for millions of individuals. Leveraging personalized modules allows these interventions to offer a tailored approach to treating mental health conditions and reducing treatment resistance for certain populations.  

DTx also have the potential to bridge the gaps faced by certain communities who struggle to access care. It is well known that access to care is a major barrier to improving health outcomes. This can be seen in the health outcomes of rural residents and their increased prevalence of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and COPD. Rural residents also face an increased risk of death from these chronic conditions compared to residents in urban areas. The distance to medical centers and a lack of public transportation both play a role in limited access to care. DTx has shown promise in overcoming these barriers to healthcare, as they can provide remote access to peer support, symptom monitoring, and activity tracking. 

While DTx are promising alternative treatment options, especially for remote-based care, several implementation challenges must be considered. Gaps in access to technology and technological literacy remain barriers to implementing DTx in routine care. These challenges are particularly pronounced in the aging population, a demographic with the highest prevalence of chronic conditions. This population may require assistance in utilizing DTx due to limited technological access or literacy. When designing DTx, it is crucial to consider the target population and ensure therapeutic navigation is aligned with anticipated skill levels.  

Given the nature of DTx treatment options, products may be covered under the medical benefit, the pharmacy benefit, or some other types of contracting avenues.  A key challenge in the implementation of digital therapeutics in standard care settings is the limited coverage by payors. According to an AMA press release in 2023, "Commercial payers contend that a limited number of health care professionals leverage the digital medicine services explored by the research." Few insurers cover the cost of DTx, and reimbursement processes remain convoluted and inconsistent. There is significant variation in methods used within digital therapeutics, making it difficult to standardize the billing processes. Major US payors remain reluctant to cover DTx due to a lack of efficacy research and cost-effectiveness data. The Access to Prescription Digital Therapeutics Act of 2023 could shift this trend by enforcing Medicare coverage of DTx for certain conditions. 

Digital therapeutics represent a transformative frontier in healthcare, harnessing the power of technology to deliver effective, personalized interventions for various medical conditions. From mental health apps to chronic disease management platforms, healthcare is witnessing a surge in innovative solutions that empower individuals to take an active role in their health. Barriers to DTx implementation are vital factors that must be addressed in order to ensure DTx products are actually effective. Widespread adoption of this technology will require user-friendly designs and improved accessibility.  

As the field experiences remarkable growth and innovation, it is key essential to tackle barriers hindering the implementation of DTx to guarantee their effectiveness and broad adoption. Understanding this need, the Digital Medicine Society (DiMe) stands as an indispensable asset for exploring the realm of digital therapeutics, offering thorough insights, and nurturing professional growth within the dynamic landscape of digital health. Through its commitment to accessibility and education, DiMe plays a leading role in propelling the integration of traditional medical methods with state-of-the-art digital solutions, steering healthcare towards a more patient-centered approach. Be sure to explore Don't overlook the wealth of resources DiMe offers, from digital measurement tools and publications to case studies and beyond. 

Embracing the advancements in digital therapeutics is pivotal for enhancing healthcare outcomes and patient experiences. By leveraging the resources and expertise provided by organizations like the Digital Medicine Society, we can navigate the complexities of this evolving landscape and drive meaningful change in healthcare delivery. 

______

 

At PFG MedComm, we continuously explore innovative approaches and can help you navigate the complexities of the healthcare payor landscape. Click here to download PFG MedComm’s Ultimate Guide to Market Access.  

Need assistance in crafting revolutionized enhancements to your value communication strategy with market access stakeholders? At PFG MedComm, we continuously explore innovative approaches.

 

Schedule a brief intro to see how we can help!

Telehealth’s Evolution Beyond Pandemic Response: A Comprehensive Outlook

Telehealth’s Evolution Beyond Pandemic Response: A Comprehensive Outlook

The COVID-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst for the widespread adoption of telehealth. Initially driven by necessity, virtual care rapidly became an...

Charting the Course: The Rise of Digital Therapeutics in Healthcare

Charting the Course: The Rise of Digital Therapeutics in Healthcare

Technological innovation has had an immense impact on healthcare delivery. Novel medical devices and cutting-edge pharmaceuticals continue to...

Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drugs: A Game-Changer in Health Accessibility

Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drugs: A Game-Changer in Health Accessibility

The escalating cost of prescription drugs has become a pressing concern for patients, healthcare providers, and policymakers alike. In this landscape...