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Regina Hodits, Managing Partner at Wellington Partners Life Sciences
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January 24, 2022
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Digital Therapeutic Solutions are the Answer Healthcare is Looking for

With a Ph.D. in biochemistry, Regina Hodits found herself in the middle of the rapidly growing biotech industry. As a post-doctoral researcher at The Medical Research Council in Cambridge, she had a front-row seat to the sector's growth.

Fascinated by the acceleration of life sciences in the 90s, she set herself a goal to translate great scientific discoveries into life-changing solutions. This is why she decided to invest in innovative ideas and products that could help patients, especially those with chronic conditions.

The life science industry embraced the digital revolution exceptionally late. Meanwhile, it is evident that the patient journey will depend on access to data. Data provides insights into patient behavior and enables doctors to make evidence-based decisions. Data allows patients to understand themselves and their diseases better.

What is so special about digital therapeutic solutions? One solution can be replicated millions of times and made available for everybody as an app.

Digital Therapeutics can Improve Patient Care

Healthcare systems prioritize preventing people from becoming sick, or providing patients with the appropriate therapy at the right time and place. Chronic conditions affect around 50% of the population and account for around 80% of healthcare costs. Not to mention the psychological burden endured by patients and their carers.

According to Regina, digital therapeutics (DTx) can be used alongside traditional therapies to improve patient care. However, she notes that there are some shortcomings in the current system that need to be addressed.

You go to the doctor, receive a prescription, buy medication, and… you are left alone until the doctor will see you again. In the meantime, nobody knows if the therapy is working or not.

"As many questions arise, patients start to search for the answers on the Internet. And often, they find misleading information. We at Wellington Partners were looking for a platform that would provide patients with the information they need to make informed decisions. But also a digital tool for healthcare providers to track the patient journey throughout the treatment period,” Regina points out.

Doctors should prescribe not only medicines but also apps that will guide the patient. Soon there will be no drug prescribed or intervention ordered without an app to follow up the results. I think it’s irresponsible to send patients home without Sidekick. The therapy is far more than medicine.

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A Recipe for a Trusted DTx Solution

The DTx market is getting very competitive. The technology can be copied. Still, unique data, an exceptional organizational culture, and communities of loyal users are not easy to duplicate. These are the critical foundations for a successful provider of digital solutions.

“If you don’t know who all your relevant stakeholders are, it won’t work. If you don’t have industry-experienced people on the board who believe in the mission you want to undertake, it won’t work. What counts is the ability to change the founders’ vision into life-changing innovation.

And Sidekick is well on its way to doing so by creating an ecosystem of partnerships, experts, and users, making meaningful connections between all relevant stakeholders. They think about the patient, practitioners, pharma, providers, and payers as part of the solution.”

The most potent driver of inevitable changes in healthcare is the informed and data-empowered citizen. During the COVID-19 pandemic, digitalized healthcare systems are performing much better. Just to mention Taiwan, New Zealand, Iceland, and Singapore.

Digital infrastructure and access to data helped them track infections, react appropriately, coordinate testing, distribute information, monitor patients, and even vaccinate millions of people faster. Patients are getting frustrated with old-school healthcare systems and are no longer willing to accept this level of inefficiency.

The “life science cosmos”

Healthcare has long lagged behind in tech innovation. Strange when we consider that health is the number one priority for all people, with few exceptions.

In the view of Regina Hodits, it’s a paradox that for a long time, we were more focused on protecting data – which are already secured far better than paper files – than on protecting the health of patients. To the harm of us all, discussions centered around data protection have delayed building digital health infrastructure.

Luckily, we have reached a point where reforms are unavoidable. Decision-makers, doctors, and patients have realized that healthcare systems are malfunctioning. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed this painfully. Individuals have seen that technology can make life easier.

People switched to electronic communication with doctors; telemedicine is now on the agenda of most primary care providers. Digital-friendly regulations have been passed to foster the development of digital health solutions. Access to data has become the most formidable power of 21st-century health systems.

Regina Hodits concludes: “DTx can reach a number of patients we would never be able to reach with physical medical solutions. By now, personalized advice and continuous feedback are at your fingertips. People have the right to get accurate diagnoses, effective treatments, and reliable information to help them make decisions.

And finally, patients have the right to know where they are on their health journey and what the next steps are. This can only be achieved by injecting digital solutions into life sciences.”

Founded in 1998, Wellington Partners is a leading European Venture Capital (VC) firm investing in early- and growth-stage life science companies, active in the fields of therapeutics, medical technology, diagnostics, digital health, and industrial biotechnology.

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About the author

Artur Olesch

Artur Olesch is a Berlin-based freelance journalist and correspondent for digital health-related topics.

See all articles by this author
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