As Immuno-oncology (IO) innovation continues to develop rapidly, providers have more options than ever before to offer their patients. Novel therapies can save lives, but they come with their own unique risks and a high price tag to boot. Many are only available in major cities and at academic medical centers, running patients not just the hundreds of thousands of dollars for the therapies themselves, but also the price of travel, missed work, and other associated costs. In order to expand patient access to these cutting-edge treatments, we must ease clinical trial enrollment and develop reimbursement options for digital therapies.
“Meeting study participants where they are will make it easier for patients to enroll in clinical trials,” says Mintu Turkhia, MD, MAS, Associate Professor and Executive Director of the Center for Digital Health at Stanford University and member of the BrightInsight Clinical Board. “One of the considerations that I’m becoming more mindful of is we tend to have study participants who are healthy and financially resourced enough to be in a trial. There’s a lot to improve upon so that we can enroll more heterogenous populations: those without access to transportation, those across a wider range of socioeconomic status and literacy. Digital can help across all those areas.”
Remote patient monitoring enables patients to receive their treatment at home while still participating in a trial. These digital devices could increase patient enrollment in clinical trials and expand the trial coverage.
With the shift towards digital interactions in the wake of COVID-19, remote patient monitoring is also a timely development. Patients are wary of long hospital stays and frequent in-person appointments. In fact, many trials were paused at the beginning of the pandemic, throwing a wrench in IO innovation.
Joachim Reischl, Vice President and Head of Diagnostic Sciences at AstraZeneca, asks, “How do we give time and freedom back to patients instead of them planning their life around treatment schedules? Digital can give more flexibility, freedom, and a more sophisticated regimen.”
There is a slow trend towards outcomes data opening reimbursement for digital. With the push for out-patient therapies, payers are beginning to reimburse for some remote and virtual care, which will benefit researchers by providing more coverage as benefits of treatments are documented. CMS, in particular, prioritizes home-based care for patients.
“CMS is interested in value-based care, and immunotherapies are extremely expensive,” says Arturo Loaiza-Bonilla, MD, MSEd, FACP of Cancer Treatment Centers of America. “If digital can help to solve the question of who gets the most benefit out of this therapy, then payers may be more likely to reimburse for these treatments.”
BrightInsight provides the leading global platform for biopharma and medtech regulated digital health solutions, and in doing so we support innovation in the IO field. Users can leverage our platform to capture, transmit, and analyze data from algorithms, medical devices, apps, software, and other products. We’re dedicated to contributing to a future where digital can ensure that the game-changing IO therapies being developed deliver maximum survival and quality of life to cancer patients.
Learn more about how we’re empowering researchers to expand patient access to IO therapies in our new white paper, The Role of Digital Health in Immuno-oncology Therapy Development and Adoption.