The Current Cost of Healthcare to Payers
Chronic conditions and mental health treatment represent up to 90% of the USA’s health expenditures, according to the CDC. This estimated $3.7 trillion arises from direct costs of treatment such as medications, hospitalizations, and physician visits, but also from indirect costs associated with lost economic productivity. Particularly concerning is the American Academy of Actuaries’ estimation that spending on prescription drugs is projected to increase more rapidly than healthcare spending overall.
This vast financial and procedural burden of chronic disease has led to a need for new solutions to manage existing conditions, and improve their prevention. DTx are well-placed to meet this need.
How can Digital Therapeutics Reduce Costs?
DTx are software-based interventions targeted towards treating and managing specific clinical conditions. DTx can be combined with conventional pharmacologics and medical devices in order to provide an ecosystem of care for a patient suffering from a particular disease, and any additional comorbidities or subsidiary symptoms they may also experience. DTx are backed by research, and are clinically-validated, evidence-based treatments.
DTx can provide symptom tracking, real-time advice from trained healthcare professionals, behavioral modification, medication and treatment adherence assistance, nutritional and lifestyle education, and mental health support, all of which can potentially yield reduced dependency on prescription medications and healthier lifestyle habits, resulting in a lower disease burden.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, digital access to healthcare surged and became an integral part of a patient’s journey through the healthcare system.
Owing partly to the extensive length of the pandemic, digital access to healthcare is now a widely recognized method of triaging, diagnosing and even treating a patient, as the world begins to return to a new normal. DTx are therefore a natural extension to the telemedicine origins of this new healthcare era, holistically treating patients in an accessible, affordable, and sustainable way.
For many common diseases such as Type II diabetes or heart disease, behavioral and lifestyle components are contributing factors to the severity and chronicity of the disease. DTx are often designed such that the lifestyle of a patient is monitored and supported, enabling the patient to make healthier decisions in their daily habits. By providing ongoing, personalized intervention, DTx have been shown to provide safer, optimized treatment for patients.
In a world where the most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data, efficient and automated gathering of user health data is one of the strengths of DTx with the most untapped potential.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research are utilizing the collection of biomarker data via a digital platform from healthy and Parkinson’s-diagnosed patients, with more than 100,000 volunteers. This landmark initiative means Parkinson’s research has access to one of the most robust datasets in the field, and is a prime example of how DTx can directly feedback to future clinical research and indirectly reduce costs: should a cure be found, treatment payouts for ineffective therapies would inevitably decrease as severe disease could be prevented entirely.