Digital Therapeutics: The Next Big Industry to Follow

  • Published Date : Jul 2023

Digital therapeutics refers to personalized, technology-based tools that use specialized software to treat, manage, or prevent a wide range of physical, mental, and behavioral health conditions. They are defined as any approved software-based tool that treats a health problem. Patients are more empowered than ever before as healthcare becomes more digital. As a result, digital health solutions are becoming increasingly important in order to keep up with an increasing number of empowered patients who are making their own treatment decisions. Digital health refers to a variety of platforms and systems that use technological solutions to improve healthcare delivery. One type of digital health solution is digital therapeutics (DTx), which provides evidence-based software-driven therapeutic interventions for the prevention and management of a medical disorder or disease.

With more people suffering from at least one type of chronic illness, digital therapeutics have emerged as a game-changing resource to help patients properly manage their conditions while seamlessly integrating with their existing healthcare plan. They provide supplemental but critical, clinical treatment support. Healthcare providers typically design, develop, and implement digital therapeutics with the assistance of in-house or third-party developers.

Previously, interest in developing DTx was primarily limited to academia and technology companies. However, the potential to use DTx in conjunction with medicines to improve health outcomes has piqued the interest of big pharma, which has begun to venture into the DTx space through investments and strategic partnerships with tech companies. This exciting advancement will create opportunities to increase patients' awareness of their health and their ability to take a more active role in disease management, potentially improving health outcomes and reducing the demands on healthcare systems when compared to traditional pharmacological interventions alone. The DTx market is expected to more than tenfold in the next three to five years, with a market value of $9 billion (USD) projected by 2025. However, this raises concerns about how technology is regulated, how healthcare providers (HCP) respond to this paradigm shift, and how these technologies are reimbursed.

Researchers around the globe have been working on Digital Therapeutics and have segmented the functions into five different categories -

  • Provide Novel Therapy Options for Unmet Medical Needs to Patients, Providers, and Payers
  • Reducing dependency on specific pharmaceuticals in treatment
  • Improve and Support Existing Medical Treatments
  • Stand-alone or in conjecture with other therapies
  • Include in Medical Guidelines and Best Practices

Every digital therapy is expected to fulfil at least one need in order to meet regulatory requirements and be considered viable for clinical use. Under these barriers, digital therapeutics have been developed to aid in the treatment, support, prevention, and management of a wide range of conditions. Researchers have also been working around setting the regulators on the basis on which they can be approved. The way there are set parameters to approve the traditional quality control measures such as strength, clarity, and purity, efforts are made to set parameters for digital therapeutics too.

Digital therapeutics falls under the umbrella term of digital health space alongside a vast variety of technologies that help patients in their different phases of the healthcare process such as-

  • Health Information Technology
  • Devices, Sensors, and Wearables
  • Mobile Health
  • Telehealth
  • Personalized Healthcare

FDA has mentioned that digital therapeutics alongside other elements of digital health can help people make an informed decision regarding their own health and open scope for prevention, diagnosing life-threatening diseases in early diseases, and managing chronic conditions in a more modern manner.

Digital therapeutics have become essential in the modern digital health chain. They are providing patients with disease care, information, support, and management along with consistency and helping them become self-reliant to a certain extent. They represent the pinnacle of personalized, technology-based healthcare delivery and the next step in treatment. On the clinical level, they provide extra assistance in treatment and support. 

A review of digital health applications represented that applications with gameplay elements tend to improve engagement, motivation and end results in treating a variety of diseases. With clear evidence of positive clinical results, there are strong incentives that will drive uptake and more people in future will be willing to adopt these methods. As an industry, it is sure to see a booming period and it might be closer than we can expect. After the breakout of the pandemic, people have started taking their health very critically as a whole. The importance of self-fitness is higher than ever and thus it is expected that more and more people would be interested in digital therapeutics.

In the present scenario, Digital therapeutics have crossed that stage where they were considered a luxury item. They have become an essential component of modern-day lives where apart from clinical use; they could easily be found for personal uses. Worldwide businesses are heavily investing in digital therapeutics crossing more than $1.5 billion to date. The next 5 years are forecasted to be a golden period and expected to cross $500 billion for digital health and a significant chunk of it would be digital therapeutics. If as a business you are looking to invest in a sector, digital therapeutics should definitely be on your list.

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