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Digital Therapeutics Grows More Integrated into Care Delivery

Digital therapeutics and connected health devices are becoming more integrated into healthcare delivery, according to a new report by PwC.

digital therapeutics

Source: Thinkstock

By Fred Donovan

- Digital therapeutics and connected health devices are becoming more integrated into healthcare delivery, according to a new report by PwC.

In fact, 82 percent of physicians said they have discussed a health app or digital program with patients related to their diagnosis or treatment in the past 12 months, either because the physician brought it up or the patient asked about it.

In addition, 77 percent of physicians have recommended a health app or digital program to their patients, and 66 percent said that the app or digital program improved the treatment experience.

Seeing the opportunity, investors injected $12.5 billion into digital health ventures in 2017 and 2018. That is up 230 percent from the 2013 investment level.

“New health data streams coming in from patients’ devices and mobile phones may disrupt provider practices even as they help improve care delivery,” the report said.

PwC recommended that physician practices evaluate workflow processes for new data streams and integrate those streams with electronic health records.

“Successfully integrating new patient data into physician practices may improve in-person visits, making health discussions more efficient and informed by real-world patient behaviors,” the report observed.

Consumers are eager to try new digital therapies and connected devices for treatment. More than 50 percent of consumers surveyed by PwC said they would be willing to try an FDA-approved app or online tool for treatment of a medical condition. These consumers are also more likely to share their medical or health information, the survey found.

Digital therapies and connected devices provide the opportunity to persuade patients to change their behaviors. Health information collection and sharing could help individuals make better lifestyle choices and physicians get involved to prevent bad outcomes, the report observed.

“Digital therapeutics and connected devices may make it easier to construct value-based contracts and other outcomes-based financial models with payers and providers to drive adoption. Subscription pricing for digital therapeutics or connected device solutions, for example, could make pharmacy spending more predictable and efficient,” the report added.

PwC said that to succeed in the digital therapeutics environment, drug and life sciences companies must go deeper into care delivery.

Organizations can become an integral part of giving patients positive health outcomes by using real-world data and enhancing the connection between patients and providers. They will be able to design new payment and contracting models.

Biopharmaceutical companies could look at the medical device industry to better understand the skills and processes needed to create healthcare solutions, instead of just selling products.

“For all healthcare companies—and especially those affected by recent dealmaking—2019 will be a time to invest in increasing their existing workforce’s efficiency and productivity to ensure they can compete at the top of their abilities,” the report noted.

Healthcare and digital convergence is pushing organizations to rethink how they operate and whom they compete against. As many technology companies in the Fortune 50 are now involved in healthcare as traditional healthcare companies, according to PwC.

To compete, healthcare organizations will need to train their employees to keep up with technological developments. While much of the initial training will focus on back-office employees, organizations should give equal thought to their patient-facing employees to improve how they interact with patients, the report advised.

“Consumers and patients, too, seem willing to adopt this model of ‘care anywhere and everywhere,’ which increases the promise of new business models emerging to serve consumers more conveniently. But training will have to emphasize the soft skills of using technology. Patients, for example, should see doctors’ faces—not the backs of their heads—while the doctors use a technology platform,” the report stressed.

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