To prevent, manage, or treat a medical ailment or disease, digital therapeutics (DTx) give evidence-based therapeutic interventions to patients that are driven by high-quality software programs. They are used to improve patient care and health outcomes, either alone or in combination with drugs, devices, or other interventions.
Advanced technology best practices in design, clinical validation, usability, and data security are all incorporated into DTx products. Regulatory bodies must validate them in order to support product claims about risk, efficacy, and intended use.
Patients, healthcare providers, and payers benefit from digital therapeutics because they provide sophisticated and accessible tools for addressing a wide range of illnesses with high-quality, safe, and effective data-driven interventions.
A New Category of Medicine
Healthcare delivery systems cannot function without digital therapeutics. They close gaps in care by doing the following:
- Using smartphones, tablets, and other such devices to deliver therapies
- Increasing the number of patients who have access to clinically safe and effective treatments
- Providing at-home convenience and privacy to reduce the stigma associated with the delivery of certain traditional therapies.
- Increasing clinicians’ abilities to provide patient care
- Treatments are available in a variety of languages, including English, Spanish, Arabic, German, and French.
- Providing patients and their clinicians with meaningful results and insights on individualized goals and outcomes.
DTx products can help underprivileged communities fill essential gaps in care, regardless of the patient’s age, language, culture, income, disease state, or location.
Examples of Digital Therapeutics
Digital treatments have been created for the treatment of a variety of illnesses since their introduction to the clinical scene, including:
- Asthma and COPD
- ADD and ADHD
- Substance Use and Disorder
- Sleep Disorder
- Behavioral Health Issues
- Chronic Back Pain
Each year, new digital treatments are developed, and each one must adhere to strict guidelines, similar to the drug approval procedure. Each digital therapeutic must have one of the following goals: treating a medical condition, managing or preventing a medical disorder or illness, optimizing medicine (a single medication or a family of medications), or addressing a medical condition.
Digital Therapeutics vs. Digital Health: What’s the Difference?
Digital therapeutics is just one part of the digital health puzzle (an FDA-approved term used to describe all technologies that engage patients for health-related purposes). They are part of a larger digital health ecosystem that includes a wide range of technologies that help patients through various stages of the healthcare process, such as:
- Health on the Go (Fitness Trackers, Nutrition Apps, Etc.)
- Information Technology in Health Care (Electronic Medical Records Systems, Electronic Prescribing and Order Entry, Etc.)
- Wearables, Sensors, and Devices (Wearable and Wireless Devices, Biometric Sensors, Etc.)
- Healthcare that is tailored to you (Patient-Reported Outcomes, Predictive Analytics, Clinical Decision Support, Etc.)
- Telehealth (Telemedicine, Virtual Visits, etc.)
Digital therapeutics and other aspects of digital health have been cited by the FDA as a tool that can help consumers make better-informed decisions about their own health and provide new options for facilitating prevention, early diagnosis of life-threatening diseases, and chronic condition management outside of traditional care settings.
The Future is Digital
Digital treatments have long gone beyond being merely “nice to haves” to being an essential part of the complete care, management, and prevention of a wide range of diseases. If you don’t believe it, that’s fine; plenty of people do. Since their introduction, investments in digital therapies have increased dramatically, totaling more than $1.5 billion to date.
With over half a trillion dollars expected to be invested in digital health over the next five years, it’s a safe bet that digital therapies will be along for the ride, evolving to address more complex care demands.