How to treat Congestive Heart Failure with Virtual Outpatient care via a DTX?

August 02, 2021 4:59 PM

The rise in digital therapeutics today offers the healthcare industry all the benefits of major industries, such as purpose driven software, connected devices, artificial intelligence, and data analytics.

In the US alone, more than half of all adults suffer from some form of chronic conditions

By Dr. Jites Bhatt,

There is no such thing as a minor cardiac incident. Whether it’s a case of an intermittent angina or an acute discovery of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – life is never the same afterwards. For millions of Americans, life after a cardiac event is often filled with new challenges that fundamentally change every aspect of their lifestyle. And given recent trends, cardiac issues are rapidly driving more hospitalizations than ever before, particularly for the 65-years and older demographic.

The State of Cardiac Health

In fact, heart conditions are fast becoming a leading cause of hospitalizations and projected to spike an alarming 50% in the next 25 years. In the US alone, more than half of all adults suffer from some form of chronic conditions, with about 40% suffering from two or more such conditions. In aggregate, this reality poses a threat to not only 70% of all patients but to the welfare of the economy as well – draining nearly USD 2.7 trillion in healthcare allocations every year.

Unsurprisingly, heart disease is at the top of this list with nearly 25% of all deaths (about 655,000) every year. The real tragedy is that about 80% of such cases are preventable by adopting a number of strategies.

The reality of this trend is very real – Congestive heart failure care can no longer be considered an issue restricted within the walls of healthcare institutions. In an age of increasing digitization, medical practitioners now have the means to influence a wider outreach with virtual outpatient care.

Digital Solutions Driving Lifestyle Changes

The rise in digital therapeutics today offers the healthcare industry all the benefits of major industries, such as purpose driven software, connected devices, artificial intelligence, and data analytics. Already, we are seeing how people prone to chronic ailments are leveraging digital solutions to meet their healthcare goals. Everything from telemedicine services to health-devices are seeing a major adoption by consumers who are taking a proactive and preventative approach to personal health.

Today, it’s possible for a smartwatch to detect signs of a rising arrhythmia or spiking blood sugar and trigger notifications to emergency services autonomously. Heart conditions easily fall within the same spectrum of chronic conditions like diabetes and respiratory issues. And given the major impact lifestyle choices can have in mitigating heart conditions and enabling outpatient care, there’s no doubt that digital therapeutics can be effectively deployed towards altering patient outcomes.

The Potential of Digital Therapeutics

There are two major areas where digital therapeutics (DTx) can have a meaningful impact on patient health. Firstly, it’s in enabling better lifestyles and habits among those people who are at risk or in dire need of behavioral change. And secondly, in ensuring a continuity of care within an outpatient model for high-risk patients. This latter category becomes all the more prescient when we consider the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our healthcare system in general. According to the American Society of Preventive Cardiology, there are over 72 million patient visits relating to cardiac issues every year, and the last year has seen significant delays and deferral of visits due to fear of the pandemic. Moreover, it has also caused increased stress and anxiety which further exacerbates any cardiac conditions already in treatment.

In this respect, the use of DTx for virtual outpatient care is critical to saving lives. And by leveraging the consumer technology platforms from phones, webcams, mobile apps, and personal computers, it’s actually a reality that can be achieved. By using these technologies to gather real-time patient data and processing it through healthcare analytics models – we can help patients make better choices, alter their behavior, and offer stress mitigation. In some cases, DTx solutions can also be designed to take on proactive measures using cognitive behavioral therapy or personal coaching as well.

This soft-touch/nudging approach, can be further expanded by deploying high-level technical solutions such as AI-powered personal coaches and real-time diagnostic testing (blood pressure, glucose monitoring, weight, activity, etc.). With all this data in play, DTx solutions can react and engage with patients to inform them of their actual condition in real-time while also offering encouragement and support for positive behavior.

In case of serious post-surgical cases as well, implanted sensor data right from the patient’s heart can be used to enhance traditional treatments. With this approach, doctors can easily be made aware of a patient’s medication use, regularity, and response, while also being shown the results and effectiveness of the treatment and the monitoring data of the recovery period. These actionable insights can be delivered in an easy to engage manner, allowing medical professionals to offer timely advice or corrections as needed.

Towards the Future of DTx

With our current rate of technology advancement, we are close to detecting and proving secondary prevention of atrial fibrillation and malignant arrhythmias. The use of cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs) with tele-monitoring can already save lives. The integrated heart rate response technology can monitor patient activity and increase heart performance during periods of necessary strain such as physical therapy. With a multi-parameter approach, even implantable cardiac resynchronization defibrillators (CRT-Ds) and cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) can act autonomously to drastically improve patient outcomes.

Ultimately, we’re only on the cusp of true digital transformation in human health. As medical implant technology becomes safer and more common, the wealth of data it generates will truly transform how We treat patients. As we work with Industry 4.0 today with its Digital Twins, tomorrow will be the era of Healthcare 4.0, where DTx will leverage digital representations of patient health that offer lifesaving predictive solutions. Until then, we must drive and adopt new innovations in DTx, so that not a single avoidable death be ascribed to the words “if only”.

If you are a pharmaceutical and are exploring to know more about Chronic disease management for Congestive Heart Failure Patients.

(The author is VP – Clinical Product, Wellthy Therapeutics. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult health experts and medical professionals before starting any therapy or medication. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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