The Rise of Digital Therapeutics (DTx)
Heidi Lim, Senior Consultant, IQVIA MedTech, Asia Pacific
Jul 06, 2020

Digital therapeutics (DTx) is a fast emerging class of therapies that utilizes software to treat disease, both as a standalone or for treatment optimization. DTx has a wide range of potential of applications from improving patient medication adherence to supporting healthcare professionals (HCPs) in managing their patients and businesses digitally. Moreover, by using artificial intelligence (AI) to interpret physiological data, DTx could be used to predict and manage a patient’s future health, rather than as a reaction to symptoms.

Across the healthcare ecosystem, stakeholders are increasing their DTx focus:

  1. Life Science companies are developing DTx that improve overall clinical outcomes
  2. Payers and providers can use DTx to treat increasing patient numbers at low cost
  3. In light of COVID-19, regulators are keen to encourage digital innovation to support treatment outside of healthcare facilitates.

DTx can bring personalized care to everyone, upstream as Life Science companies use real-world data to predict outcomes or downstream as patients receive care in the moment rather than waiting for a doctor’s appointment.

Allow continuous real-world data collection

DTx, whether preventative or management, by its nature tracks data and is therefore a ready repository of real-world data that can be used to communicate safety, cost-effectiveness and advocacy for market access. In addition, it’s ready to be connected to other data sources such as chat bots, decision support systems, and connected biosensors – creating a full map of the patient management. In the advent of Machine Learning algorithms, it can be used to look for text and image data, and better inform real-world use.

Deliver continuum of care outside of healthcare facilities

A triage of technology can allow HCPs to monitor patients in real time beyond healthcare facility settings and also support patients to take control of their health. Linking DTx to biosensors, smart watches, user-friendly apps can allow it to be an extension arm of healthcare providers. For example, in the US, DTx was used to treat Schizophrenia patients during the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce potential COVID-19 exposure at healthcare facilities.

In other uses, DTx can identify chronic disease patients at-risk of developing complications and triggering intervention before these exacerbate. A key benefit to the patient but also to payers who can save costs from early diagnosis and treatment, before incurring higher costs down the road. Propeller Health’s asthma platform demonstrated a 79% reduction in rescue inhaler use1 and a 57% reduction in asthma-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations2.

Recipe for success

DTx success strongly relies on seamless integration into current healthcare infrastructure and individual lifestyle. DTx strategy should consider how it can create value-add opportunities for the company, any gaps in internal DTx development capabilities but most importantly, how it can complement product portfolios to deliver holistic patient care.

DTx continues the human health journey with patient centricity at its core.

Heidi Lim, Senior Consultant, IQVIA MedTech, Asia Pacific
Ruthie Burr, Consultant, Strategic Marketing and Business Development, Asia Pacific

For more information, please feel free to contact Heidi Lim

  1. Merchant, et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2016 May-Jun;4(3):455-63
  2. Merchant et al., 2018, WAOJ. “Impact of a Digital Health Intervention on Asthma Resource Utilization”
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