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David Slifka, Vice President, Commercial Operations 

This is part two in a series on DTx; be sure to check out part 1

To harness the power of digital therapeutics (DTx) for your health system’s digital strategy, understanding the complexities of this burgeoning industry is essential.

Many health systems see DTx implementation as a long, labor-intensive process, which is holding back progress and playing a significant role in low adoption rates. A recent American Medical Association study of 1,300 physicians found that only 3.8% use digital health tools – the much larger category of which DTx is a part. That’s a meager increase of 1.6% since 2015. 

However, interest remains strong. While only 22% of providers have prescribed a DTx product, more than 87% indicated they would be interested in prescribing DTx in the future. 

It’s not a matter of if DTx adoption will pick up speed, but when. Market projections place its value at $10.5 billion by 2030.

DTx can be used independently or with devices, additional therapies, and medications, which makes them appealing to the pharmaceutical industry. Among their more popular current uses are treatment for pain, diabetes, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and asthma. 

Healthcare is only beginning to get up to speed. 

The DTx buzz 

The Digital Therapeutics Alliance (DTA) defines DTx as products that “deliver medical interventions directly to patients using evidence-based, clinically evaluated software to treat, manage, and prevent a broad spectrum of diseases and disorders.”

That’s the broad brush within the digital medicine segment of digital health. However, there are further classifications within DTx, such as whether the intervention is prescription (PDT) or non-prescription. That point causes consternation among DTx developers and health systems.

Despite FDA approval and clearance concerns, which only affect certain DTx products, development momentum shows no signs of slowing. Venture financing in the field reached nearly $500 million in 2021. An increase in regulatory acceptance buoys optimism. In April 2022, the FDA loosened its regulations governing the approval of digital mental health tools to speed their time to market, for example. 

Diversification of therapy areas, deepening collaborations, and evolving care technologies and solutions that span the entire patient journey are heartening signs of a bright DTx future. 

Successful DTx integrations

Scripps wanted to increase patient session volume, expand remote patient monitoring (RPM), and be sure no patients were missed. The MyScrippsBaby app needed to be rolled out consistently across clinics. 

Scripps partnered with Xealth to increase the use of the app by automating enrollment. Previously clinicians and staff were responsible for manually enrolling patients. Their new approach sends OB patients education and information about the MyScrippsBaby before their appointments. 

Digital communications originate from the health system and care provider via the patient portal and email. Within four months of launch, the app saw a 300% lift in enrollment and 290% in engagement. Read more about this and other successes in this summary overview.

Another Xealth partner, the Froedtert & MCW health network, wanted to offer wearable and ingestible sensors for patients with diabetes and hypertension. The network saw considerable gains in medication adherence by including DTx in patient EHRs. This simplified a multi-step manual process for healthcare providers. Patients who used DTx achieved 91% medication adherence or better, with lower average glucose levels and LDL cholesterol levels. 

Addressing primary concerns

Patient security and safety, reimbursement, and real-world data (RWD) are three of the top concerns surrounding DTx adoption. 

In 2022, the DTA addressed these by releasing a guide developed over two years incorporating insights from payors, clinicians, and manufacturers to ensure applicability across settings. It’s intended to serve as a critical step in product access and contracting discussions, and it addresses a spectrum of healthcare decision-making (HCDM) considerations. It covers individual health systems, employers, single-payor government systems, and multi-payor public/private settings. 

On the patient side, there are reasons for optimism as well. In a study published in JMIR Human Factors, researchers comprehensively assessed reported adverse events by nearly 140,000 users of Kaia Health’s musculoskeletal digital therapy solutions. The study showed fewer than 1% of users reported any adverse event.

These assurances are critical as the healthcare industry determines how best to leverage DTx in meeting patient and provider demand and interest. It is only a matter of time until reimbursement models become more clearly defined and entrenched, and healthcare cannot afford to fall further behind in adoption. 

Xealth’s digital health formulary allows organizations to centralize and compare multiple digital programs to optimize outcomes. By leveraging our extensive client network, health systems can: 

  • Facilitate the sharing of knowledge and experience among digital health leaders
  • Offer ideas and suggestions about which solutions to include in their digital health formulary
  • Ease the burden on IT and IS teams by removing the duplicative effort of multiple integrations

Get our how-to guide to learn more. 

Do you want to learn more about how Xealth can maximize your current or future DTx investment? Request your demo today!

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