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Digital Therapeutics – Treating the cost of care

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By Paul Balagot, Chief Experience Officer, precisioneffect

Affordable healthcare is a major topic of debate in the US 2020 election and provides an important and relevant backdrop for discussing the potential impact of Digital Therapeutics.

Digital Therapeutics deliver evidence-based solutions to prevent, manage, or treat a medical disorder or disease. This new class of therapies offers many clinical benefits to physicians, patients, and caregivers, as they represent a new way of managing and treating disease.

Consider a few recent examples:

  • Pear Therapeutics, one of the pioneers in the Digital Tx space, has developed reSET for substance use disorder, and demonstrated the ability to more than double abstinence rates when added to outpatient therapy.
  • Biofourmis has developed a Digital Therapeutics system that aims to preempt clinical events in areas such as heart failure, with the promise of reducing ER visits and readmissions.
  • RenalytixAI are developing Digital Therapeutics to improve diagnosis and stratification of kidney disease to improve treatment decisions and overall care.

Across the broad spectrum of care from initial diagnosis, to treatment, to adherence, Digital Tx are being developed and commercialized to provide solutions and improved outcomes to patients across disease states as varied as mental health, obesity, diabetes, women’s health and neurological conditions.

While the scope of disease and range of approaches is wide, a consistent impact these solutions share is their potential to reduce the overall cost of care. Whether it’s preempting clinical events, guiding better diagnosis and treatment decisions, or facilitating better health choices, all of these actions contribute to the dream of a more affordable healthcare system and a healthier nation.

In a recent study by JAMA, it is estimated that healthcare spending in the United States will increase from what was $11,000 per person in 2017 to $17,000 per person by the year 2027. Additional studies show that many American families are being forced into financial hardship and even bankruptcy due to the inability to pay medical bills. These hardships are not just confined to those with no or limited insurance coverage. Given the increasing cost of healthcare premiums, high deductibles, co-pays, and out of pocket costs, a growing number of people with good health insurance cite challenges meeting their medical bill obligations. Many have resorted to avoiding seeing their doctor or filling their prescriptions, which, sadly, has the potential to increase their overall costs down the road.

The actual number of financial hardships and bankruptcies created each year due to healthcare bills is widely debated, but there is consensus that the size of the issue merits it place as a central topic of proposed reform within our political landscape.

Surely there is much that must be done to drive down the costs of care, but perhaps Digital Therapeutics and the many novel ways they propose to manage and treat disease can provide one of the many countervailing forces necessary to reign in the cost of care and make it more affordable and accessible to all.

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