Digital health dispatch from the DTx West and Reuters Pharma USA conferences

I recently returned from the DTx West conference in Silicon Valley and the Reuters Pharma USA event in Philadelphia. It was great to get back on the road, meet some new faces and colleagues in person, and hear how biopharma is thinking about digital in 2022.

I’ve summarized the key themes and takeaways from the conferences for you all.

Future-Proofing Digital Health Solutions

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is clearing or approving an increasing number of digital products, including those classed as Software as a Medical Device (SaMD)–a positive signal that healthcare providers (HCPs) are growing more comfortable and confident in using digital solutions.

But it also means that future-proofing digital solutions, by starting with a regulated platform, is critical. Launching with an unregulated app, then adding regulated use case features later, can end up costing much more in the long run.

Data Generation Drives Value for Digital Therapeutics (DTx)

At the DTx West conference participants stressed the importance of evidence generation, noting that real-world data is key to payers and investors. Data is the deliverable, and digital solutions are the data collection tools. Importantly, metrics derived from that data–for example, patient satisfaction or medication adherence and compliance rates–provide quantitative evidence of return on investment (ROI).

Looking to the future, DTx West participants also forecast that the next wave of investment in the space will involve clinical data validation, with outcomes from randomized clinical trials and real-world evidence demonstrating ROI.

Patients Expect a Personalized Healthcare Experience but Getting It Is Challenging

Personalization of the healthcare journey experience was a key theme at the Reuters Pharma USA meeting, with best-in-class examples from the worlds of retail and tech serving as signposts in consumerism:

Tech and retail companies are not only examples of personalization. They’re also players in the healthcare space; witness pharmacy chains such as CVS or Walgreens, which are moving into the HCP space with acute care “Minute Clinics.” Even E-tail giant Amazon is getting in on the game, operating as a de facto pharmacy benefits manager (PBM). Retailers and tech firms are master data storytellers, expert at translating information into outcomes–a skill that digital health designers need to continue to develop.

One crucial difference between retail/tech and the healthcare industry is that digital health product developers must balance the use of data to deliver highly personalized treatments with the need for personal health data security and privacy, anonymizing data to maintain confidentiality.

Consumer-Centric Product Design Builds Trust

Another, related key theme at the Reuters conference was patient-centric or better yet, consumer-centric design. Understanding patients as consumers, as the retail and tech examples above have done, allows developers to design solutions that drive patients’ behavioral changes, keeping them adherent, happy, and engaged in their treatment plan.

At BrightInsight, we survey patients and HCPs so that we can design solutions that seamlessly integrate into HCP workflows and fulfill patients’ needs. Involving patients and HCPs in the product development process and engaging with patient advocacy groups and caregivers as key stakeholders allow pharma companies and their digital health solution partners to earn and build trust.

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