Digital Therapeutics: Trends to watch in 2021

Digital Therapeutics: Trends to watch in 2021

In the time of maintaining social distance, DTx technologies are delivering evidence-based therapeutic interventions to patients via software applications to prevent, manage or treat a broad spectrum of physical, mental, and behavioral conditions with minimal requirement of human intervention. It provides data-driven treatments with a more patient-centric approach in real-time. A recent need to accelerate DTx to be one of the most convenient and cost-effective treatments in healthcare is being realized worldwide in 2021. 

Fremont, CA: The Healthcare industry has been using Digital Therapeutics (DTx) for a long time. But since the emergence of Covid-19, DTx has become a revolution. In the time of maintaining social distance, DTx technologies are delivering evidence-based therapeutic interventions to patients via software applications to prevent, manage or treat a broad spectrum of physical, mental, and behavioral conditions with minimal requirement of human intervention. It provides data-driven treatments with a more patient-centric approach in real-time. A recent need to accelerate DTx to be one of the most convenient and cost-effective treatments in healthcare is being realized worldwide in 2021.

Before the COVID-19 crisis, a significant barrier that digital therapeutics companies were facing was regulatory barriers and payers' reluctance to reimburse their solution. But owing to the pandemic, these obstacles have begun to diminish. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has launched a pre-certification program and other policies to streamline the path to software product approval back in 2019. With that, the two largest pharmacy benefit managers CVS and ExpressScripts, launched digital health formularies to pave the way for payers to place digital therapeutics alongside traditional pharmaceutical products and medical devices. It has further accelerated consumer demand and favorable regulatory developments to keep pace with digital therapeutics change.

While the healthcare industry is entering the era of digital innovation, from startups to pharma giants, all are experiencing extraordinary surges in consumer demand. As per EHR Intelligence data, it had witnessed a 3,400 percent increase in daily telehealth visits. Also, delivering prescriptions over mail has benefited the digital pharmacy space as it has helped make the process more efficient and less time-consuming. The ease of seeing a doctor, ordering medicine online, or receiving digital diagnosis and treatment are paving the way to widely adopt digital therapeutics, making all the possible ways to meet patients' demands.

Post-pandemic, sensible changes in regulation have been observed, which is benefiting DTx companies worldwide. In 2020, it was announced that healthcare providers could practice across state lines. These recent changes can help solve insufficient clinical professionals combined with higher reimbursement rates for telemedicine recently set by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). This new regulatory landscape in healthcare is required for startups to emerge and allows existing digital companies to serve more patients remotely. Also, the FDA has issued new guidance permitting more no-invasive remote patient monitoring devices.

Digital therapeutics startups will benefit more from the combination of regulatory changes and increased consumer demand. On the other hand, big enterprises will have fewer benefits with regulatory changes. Most probably, these advantages will seem to be reflected in the public market too.

The technologies highlighted above overhaul the healthcare industry. It can transform healthcare, but more evidence is still needed regarding their costs and benefits and their effectiveness in delivering their promise. If DTx remains intact after COVID challenges, it will lead to more options, lower prices, and greater access to innovative treatments. Sooner or later, doctors will prescribe an app to a patient instead of a pill.