Digital tools improve adherence if patients adhere to them
“It all starts with talking to the patient populations that you are seeking to support but also the medical professionals around those patients to understand what is actually going to create value,” says Bonam when explaining the core principles that guide AstraZeneca (AZ) in its efforts when developing DTx.
Adding another digital solution to the market and hoping patients will accept it is the worst approach. Why? Because there are already thousands of digital tools available with a marginal number of downloads. Many digital solutions promise wonderful things, but in most cases there is little or no evidence to support these claims. This can be confusing for patients and healthcare professionals alike.
AZ knows DTx has vast potential, but has also learned that digital products are complex to develop and successfully implement.
The problem regarding tools designed to support long-term care of patients is that you’re asking the patient to adhere to yet another thing. And I think that can be quite challenging.
Digital and medicine therapies: when two become one
Bonam believes in DTx but doubts if every medicine will get a companion app. “Consider that most people with long-term chronic diseases have more than one condition and more than one therapist. I think that having apps completely tied to a single therapeutic drug won’t be useful”, he claims.
Instead, he shares his vision: a modular approach with solutions supporting patients at a particular disease level or an overall care level.
Some modules may support adherence to a particular therapy or improve its management. For example, a digital tool will determine whether a treatment selected for a new patient is actually having the expected effect on specific biomarkers that are measured digitally.
This scenario will come true only if we manage to create a connected healthcare ecosystem. Therefore, we need close cooperation between pharma, the tech industry, and healthcare systems to deliver full integration within health delivery.
No player alone will manage to build their own perfect system to address all patient problems.