Digital Therapeutics or DTx in short is one of the latest buzzwords in the digital health ecosystem. Unlike others (NFT, Metaverse just to name a few) however, we see DTx as a meaningful trend that has the capacity to bring short-term, substantial improvements in personalised healthcare. 

What is Digital Therapeutics?

The definition by the Digital Therapeutics Alliance, the main professional hub is: 

“Digital therapeutics (DTx) deliver evidence-based therapeutic interventions that are driven by high-quality software programs to prevent, manage, or treat a medical disorder or disease. They are used independently or in concert with medications, devices, or other therapies to optimise patient care and health outcomes.”

In everyday English: DTx delivers evidence-based, clinically backed solutions to manage and/or improve health conditions via software and/or other digital health technologies. 

You can download the latest, official DTx Value Assessment & Integration Guide here

What is it good for? 

The number of existing DTx solutions is constantly on the rise, the Alliance has a product library, but even they admit that the inventory is not complete. As of now, there are several healthcare segments that seem to utilise the potential the most, diabetes care and mental health apps are well represented among the applications, some of which are like certain drugs: subscription-only.

Digital Health Mergers

Apart from these ‘established’ segments, we have seen some promising new ventures in the field, worth keeping an eye on.

Why is it good?

DTx solutions are typically delivered through smartphone apps. In other words, via a channel pretty much everyone has access to. Not only is that important, because accessibility is one of the key factors for any new solution to become widely used, but also because it allows a certain kind of privacy, bringing treatments to the patients’ homes, removing stigmas typically connected to a number of therapies, either in substance abuse care or in mental health.

Summarising the basics, let’s see a few exciting, real-life examples

1. Atopic Dermatitis (eczema) treatment

Digital therapeutics firm Sidekick Health has joined forces with pharma giant Pfizer to launch a digital therapeutics solution for Atopic Dermatitis (AD). We briefly introduced their solution on our Patreon page, you will find the interview with co-founder Sam Oddsson here

This partnership meets three important criteria that can hugely support it to become successful: 

As mentioned a zillion times on these pages earlier, targeting niche areas with well-defined solutions is typically much more viable than trying to shoot for the full width of the healthcare spectrum.

Results are promising here, patients also using the app besides their regular treatment regime reported significant reduction of symptoms and improved adherence to treatments and preventive measures.

2. Cancer treatment

A very recent development from Sidekick is a new partnership just announced, they teamed up with Eli Lilly to provide support for Lilly’s oncology treatment programs, targeting key pain points of breast cancer treatments. The collaboration will be launched in July 2022 in Germany, with potentially other countries following. 

And what are the key pain points? Pain, nausea, anxiety, lack of understanding of the treatment, and lack of adherence to treatment. Also, very often, the feeling of being alone, not being fully connected with the care team.

This is not the only DTx solution to support cancer treatments, Kaiku Health has a CE-marked, MDD class IIa class application, that is currently used for 25 different cancer types, in several countries, including Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Finland among others.

3. DTX targeting behavioural health conditions

The first application of New York-based Happify we became aware of a while ago was called Ensemble, and it was designed to use app-based exercises to help change negative thinking patterns and develop healthy habits.

The company has developed a new DTx app, called Basis since then, the latter is a non-prescription tool for managing symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. 

Again, both of the above solutions target specific problems, have a well-defined target audience, and neither of them tries to solve all existing health conditions at once. 

Lifestyle medicine DTx app mental meditation

The company obviously tries to build a castle around these cores, offering condition-specific communities, A.I. based and/or live health coaching, and also a Wellness app, that has a wider scope than what we typically like, at first glance trying to unify all the above in one application intended for a more general audience.

4. DTx for sleep-wake disorders and substance abuse

Pear Therapeutics has developed a prescription-only DTx application called Somryst for insomnia treatment for above-22 patients. The solution has a strict list of use limitations, both in health conditions and also in job descriptions, as the early stage might increase sleepiness, definitely not recommended in a good number of professions, from truck drivers to operators of heavy machinery. 

The app works via a method of sleep restriction and consolidation, limiting the time a patient spends in bed to match the amount of time they sleep. It is backed by a clinician-facing dashboard, where healthcare professionals can follow the patients’ use of the app, the severity of their symptoms, and their sleep metrics. 

The company has other prescription-only DTx solutions, called reSET and reSET-O, targeting substance use disorders and Opioid Use Disorders via cognitive behavioural therapy, both used in outpatient treatments supervised by clinicians.  

Also in the pipeline is another important development, reSET-A, a tool designed to target alcohol addiction, that has received Breakthrough Device Designations from FDA last fall, still waiting for full clearance. 

5. Chronic Pain Treatments

Last, but not least, also an exciting use of DTx tools can be found in chronic pain treatment, where VR was proved to be pretty efficient in easing symptoms, so much so that it also received FDA authorisation. 

There are several existing solutions, like RelieVRx or HelloBetter, both using principles of cognitive behavioural therapy to ease chronic pain. 

AppliedVR, the developer of the former app has a number of other applications in the pipeline, furthest along the process is their application targeting chronic back pain management, but others are also in progress, including opioid-sparing treatments for a number of conditions and also others that target general pain and/or anxiety management for certain conditions. 

This is not all of course

Even looking around in the – far from offering a complete view – product library of the DTx Alliance, you will see that there are other existing and exciting solutions, targeting a wide range of symptoms from ADHD in kids to asthma and migraine and many others in adults. 

The important next question is how fast and easy these can infiltrate normal, everyday care and medical practice. This remains to be seen in the coming months and years. We are willing to bet on DTx, as a great tool for patient empowerment, resulting in better health outcomes for the patients, and thus, more rewarding treatment options for healthcare professionals as well.

The post The New Buzz: These Are The Top Examples Of Digital Therapeutics appeared first on The Medical Futurist.

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