Utilize Digital Therapeutics to Take On Patient Care Challenges

Hands holding and interacting with mobile phone with icons representing digital therapeutics
Digital therapeutics offer health care organizations a means to improve operations and service delivery via a low-cost, direct-to-consumer alternative to traditional forms of clinical treatment. These evidence-based therapeutic treatments offered through digital platforms can help prevent, treat or manage medical conditions and offer a unique alternative or complement to traditional pharmaceuticals and treatments. Given the increasing demand for these niche products, greater use of digital therapeutics is inevitable.

Health systems face obstacles affecting both patient access and safety, and digital therapeutics have been proven in some cases to help alleviate these challenges. Digital therapeutics have the potential to:

  • Relieve workforce burdens. Since digital therapeutics can be administered without an in-person interaction, providers can use their additional capacity to support higher-acuity patients who require more hands-on care. To ensure safety, many digital therapeutics provide continuous monitoring of patients, automatically alerting providers when patients are potentially at risk.
  • Extend care beyond hospital walls. Digital therapeutics provide care options for patients hesitant to seek in-person care. COVID-19 has accelerated consumer preference for remote care, and it is predicted that this preference will persist post-pandemic. With digital therapeutics, a health system can potentially gain a competitive advantage by expanding its virtual health offerings beyond virtual visits.
  • Reduce costs to align with shift to value. As many health care organizations shift to value-based contracting, digital therapeutics offer a way for patients to receive the appropriate level of clinical treatment in a lower-cost site of care. Moreover, the number of acute, expensive ED visits and lengthy inpatient stays can be reduced.

Additional applications of digital therapeutics listClinical applications include many different types of therapies, delivered through a variety of platforms such as digital sensors, wearable devices, virtual reality or artificial intelligence devices. Program examples include:

  • In 2018 Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Health Network incorporated a scalable digital therapeutic called SilverCloud to address anxiety and depression. Clinicians are able to track patients’ use of this free app and see them progress through its modules (eg, mindfulness exercises and mood/lifestyle charting). Users with moderate symptoms of severe depression and anxiety have shown improvement, some significant.
  • In 2015, Highmark Health and Allegheny Health Network formed a partnership with Palo Alto Health Sciences, a digital therapeutic company, to offer their product, Freespira, to members to help people who suffer from panic attacks. Freespira leads patients through a four-week program with audio- and visual-guided breathing exercises. Many users reported they were panic attack–free after four weeks of using Freespira and/or had reduced overall panic symptoms at one-year posttreatment.
  • A 2019 study from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center showed a positive impact on pain management through a therapeutic virtual reality (VR) program called SootheVR, an app designed to train adults to manage pain and anxiety before, during or after a medical procedure. Researchers found significant improvements in pain between the treatment and control groups. This treatment suggests one way VR can be used to support patients with a nonaddictive replacement for drugs.

Sg2 members can read our report You Asked: Digital Therapeutics: Moving Virtual Health Beyond Virtual Visits to learn about the digital therapeutics landscape and discover action steps your organization can take as you evaluate adoption.

Not an Sg2 member but have specific questions or want to learn more about how Sg2 can support your digital therapeutics initiatives? Contact us today!

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