By Rajeev Sibal
Ever since Rekha’s mother opted for a connected wearable activity tracker to monitor her activity, sleep and fitness, her vitals have stabilised and there have been no more emergency trips to the hospital. Her healthcare provider (HCP) can now keep tabs on her condition on a day-to-day basis. Similarly, a portable ECG machine used by Rahul, allows his doctors to monitor his heart condition, make accurate predictions and change medical prescriptions when needed.
These are just two recent instances that come to mind as I look at how Digital Therapeutics or DTx is transforming the healthcare industry and placing patient at the centre of the eco-system. It’s indeed an exciting time, as we witness advancements in the journey of patient’s health management with rapid evolution of this category of applications. With increased penetration of smartphones and fitness trackers, futuristic technologies, and a booming interest in this sector, the global digital therapeutics market is predicted to be worth USD 28.21 billion in 2030, according to Strategic Market Research. Developing countries like India, which boast of both large patient population and a widespread adoption of smartphones, smart devices, and Internet, are perched on the brink of a massive opportunity when it comes to DTx products. Moreover, with patients taking in charge of their health, they are actively managing diseases and looking for holistic solutions which are beyond the medication.
Unlocking a New Chapter in Medical Innovation
DTx interventions are evidence-based health programs that help patients prevent, manage or treat disease by providing them access to an integrated eco-system consisting of HCPs, counsellors, connected medical devices and emergency services. This approach allows patients to be more adherent to the treatment protocol and have better control over the progression of their disease.
With emphasis on delivering clinical outcomes, these solutions offer basic guidance across three key areas – medical guidance, medical treatment plans and patient alerts. DTx can be used for guidance on aspects such as, adhering to the treatment or correct way of using medical devices. It can also be brought into play with a holistic plan for disease treatment in chronic conditions such as asthma or COPD. When connected with medical devices/wearables, DTx can further track and capture data that alerts patients on changes in vitals.
Technology driven medical interventions: A game changer in cardiovascular disease
India is witnessing a high prevalence and incidence rate of chronic diseases. With 250 million patients suffering from cardiac diseases and 80 million patients coping with diabetes, these disease segments present a massively underserved market in India. To add to this, patients across the country are far better informed than they used to be, demanding access to their health parameters at the touch of a button. Given this background, in my opinion, this is the ideal time to deliver a futuristic solution which involves beyond the pill approach and helps patients track, analyse, and monitor their medical conditions.
With more patients taking active interest in managing their health, healthcare providers have opened up to the idea of involving their patients in their designing their treatment plans. To quote Dr. Sadanand Shetty, Chairman and MD, Sadanand Healthy Living Center, Sion, “Patients with chronic cardiovascular diseases experience high levels of uncertainty and need to significantly increase self-care in their treatment regimen. This behavioural change can be achieved through digital therapeutics.”
With DTx, healthcare providers can monitor their patients in real time and manage them remotely, making necessary interventions in a timely manner. I do believe that advances in cardiovascular DTx could help identify worsening of heart condition and allow doctors to prevent heart failure.
Digital Therapeutics: The Next Frontier in Healthcare
DTx solutions are employed for the diagnoses, management and prevention of diseases such as hypertension, asthma, obesity, diabetes, anxiety and cardiovascular conditions, amongst others. DTx companies are merging medicine with technology to establish proven clinical outcomes and create a robust growth pipeline to augment existing therapies. Given the fact that the patient and health care provider are end consumers, I think user experience, content and design need to be the primary focus areas for these products. Patient data safety and protection needs to be fortified as the healthcare industry delves deeper and embraces more DTx products.
As we move forward, healthcare providers must partner with the right digital therapeutics’ provider to better patient experience and drive value. With personalised diagnostics, healthcare providers will be able to monitor and motivate their patients through the various stages of their health journey and enhance patient engagement with improved clinical outcomes.
(The author is President – India Region Formulation, Lupin. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.