Digital health is big business. Ten years ago, the industry was centered around offering remote monitoring technologies for cardiac and diabetes patients. Nowadays, fitness devices and wellness apps are ubiquitous. So it is no surprise that the digital therapeutics (DTx) market is forecast to grow at a compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 31.4% between now and 2030.
Delivering better healthcare
Demand for DTx products is being driven by other factors besides consumer demand. By 2030, there will be a global shortage of 15 million health workers. This, together with a rapidly aging population, is forcing clinicians to look at innovative ways to deliver healthcare. DTx strategy addresses these needs by creating new care pathways and approaches to medicine.
What is DTx?
But before delving further into this, it is worth categorizing DTx. The Digital Therapeutics Alliance defines DTx as the delivery of therapeutic interventions directly to patients using evidence-based, clinically evaluated software to treat, manage and prevent a wide range of mental and physical diseases.
DTx solutions are powered by artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing and other technologies, which is why they’re often regarded as a subset of software as a medical device (SaMD).
What distinguishes these technologies is their focus on patient adherence. It may be hard to believe, but 20-30% of medication prescriptions are never filled and 50% of medications for chronic diseases are not taken as prescribed. DTx products are perfectly placed to address this issue because they use health tracking and remote patient monitoring to drive outcomes.
DTx solutions also use other features such as apps and virtual assistants to drive adherence, which is why they are well-suited to managing chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes.
Are these products commercially viable – one may ask? A quick look at the DTx product landscape would suggest we’re only scratching the surface of what can be done with these amazing solutions and the monetization opportunities are almost limitless. Here are just a couple of the applications you could check out:
- Chronic condition management — Propeller’s digital platform has improved medical adherence by 58%, reduced inhaler use by 78% and brought down asthma-related healthcare visits and hospitalizations by 57%.
- Virtual coaches — Kaia Health’s solution uses exercises and computer vision to give corrective feedback to patients suffering from musculoskeletal conditions.
Access to better data
Impressive though these products are, if the DTx market is to scale further, patients will need to become more involved. Developers rely upon patient data to refine existing products and build better solutions. Right now, this collection is dependent on users’ willingness to log data manually, but in the future, more products are likely to appear on the market that use passive tracking to accumulate data. Solutions like BlueStar and OneDrop — which track blood sugar levels — are already moving in that direction.
A bright future
So, what will this future look like? While it is too early to say with absolute certainty, we can make some guesses. User engagement and rapport with devices will improve as voice becomes more integrated into DTx products. Care companions are likely to evolve from virtual assistants into standalone devices capable of serving a range of different needs. More broadly, the market is likely to plow greater investment into digital twins. Acting as replicas of physical services, digital twins will allow providers to make predictions about people’s health and the best course of treatment.
Capture the potential of DTx
Digitization in healthcare can deliver lower costs, better health outcomes and improved patient engagement. But it all starts with design. Good design can turn a medical intervention into a valuable, seamless and even joyful part of life for patients. HealthTech technology consulting can determine what design principles should underpin your DTx product. And whatever approach you decide to take, Star consultancy services will give you guidance and a strong roadmap for building DTx solutions.
Lynn Martelli is an editor at Readability. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University and has worked as an editor for over 10 years. Lynn has edited a wide variety of books, including fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, and more. In her free time, Lynn enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with her family and friends.