What impact do you expect Covid-19 to have on the long-term adoption of digital therapeutics?
There’s no question that COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on people’s utilization of healthcare—the focus has largely been on increasing adoption of telehealth, but we are also seeing reduced utilization in many areas as well. The result is that many people with chronic conditions are actually avoiding needed maintenance and preventive care. We’re also seeing increases in sedentary behavior and in problems related to mental health. These cannot be solved through provider visits alone—a very small amount of time in a person’s life is spent with their provider. Making such visits more convenient, efficient and effective is extremely important. But life is lived outside of the doctor’s visit—and digital therapeutics are uniquely poised to improve the fundamental drivers of chronic disease. So I’m expecting a dramatic increase in adoption of approaches like ours at DarioHealth which are digital therapeutics as part of comprehensive remote care solutions.
What changes has DarioHealth already made in response to this pandemic?
DarioHealth recognizes that chronic conditions were worsening in nearly every geography and demographic even prior to the pandemic, and that the pandemic has only accelerated the deterioration in health for those with chronic conditions, especially metabolic diseases. Because of this, Dario introduced behavioral health coaching, expanded its offering to include hypertension and obesity and has deployed specific supports to our members who are most at risk for exposure to and complications from COVID-19.
With the explosion of interest in telehealth, how can digital therapeutics fit into the new healthcare systems we are set to find ourselves in?
Telehealth is incredibly important because anything we can do to increase engagement in care to avert the devastating sequelae of chronic conditions is a good thing. Chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, among others, are the primary drivers of cost, morbidity, mortality, absenteeism and presenteeism. Digital therapeutics allow for a more comprehensive and accurate picture of a person’s health and behaviors—these allow for more accurate diagnosis, more tailored recommendations and better insights into outcomes. Provider visits, driven by telehealth, are only a part of the solution. People need help with 99.9% of their lives that they live outside of the provider visit—help with the behaviors that drive outcomes—everything from when and how they sleep, what they eat, how they move and the thousands of choices they make that are contributing to—or detracting from—their health.
How should digital therapeutics companies be working with patients to ensure that these products truly deliver for those with unmet medical needs?
Too much of product design is driven by what founders believe the unmet need is rather than a data-driven analysis of what the actual gaps are. Focusing on user experience and adhering to the notion that what matters to people is often far more important than what’s the matter with people is key to ensuring product/market fit.
To you, what is the true “value” digital therapeutics can offer healthcare?
Digital therapeutics can deliver improved health and reduced cost at scale—two things that are sorely missing from our healthcare systems.
What needs to happen next for Digital Therapeutics to reach their next life cycle stage?
Certainly an industry-wide emphasis on outcomes and widespread establishment of payment mechanisms will help—I’d also like to see a stronger focus on engagement and user experience design. Like in any industry, winners and losers will emerge—the winners will be those companies that develop products that users love and can’t live without.
What are you most looking forward to at DTx London?
I’m most excited to be using the networking platform to connect with others—I’ve been fascinated by how conferences can successfully migrate to online—not just attempting to replicate what face-to-face conferences did but rather exploring new ways of connecting that weren’t even possible in the older models.
Omar will be sharing more of his perspectives at DTx London 2020 during his presentation, Engagement in Digital Health, at 3:00pm and a panel discussion at 3:50pm titled: How Should we Leverage Real-World Evidence in the “New Normal”.