Digital Therapeutics Are Modern Day Digital Engineers

Suffering from chronic pain or IBS ? or want to reverse newly diagnosed diabetes? Software engineers have exciting solutions that are backed by the USFDA. Digital therapeutics (DTx ) are the newer options for patients

Suffering from chronic pain or IBS ? or want to reverse newly diagnosed diabetes? Software engineers have exciting solutions that are backed by the USFDA. Digital therapeutics (DTx ) are the newer options for patients. They are high-quality mobile-friendly software application-driven interventions to prevent, manage or treat diseases. Backed by AI, they provide personalized solutions. Scientifically established and evidence-based, they can be as effective as pharmaceutical pills. 

Some of the noteworthy DTx are Bluestar  (management of diabetes), Deprexis (depression), Nerivio (migraine), and  Leva for urinary incontinence. Valued at $5.09 billion, the DTx market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 26.1 per cent between 2022 and 2030. 

Almost 21 per cent of the elderly in India suffer from a chronic illness. Hypertension and diabetes are responsible for 68 per cent of all chronic diseases. DTx treatments have demonstrated their efficacy in treating, controlling, and preventing chronic diseases, and they could be a boon to a country like India. 

According to a Deloitte report, around 750 million Indians own smartphones. The number is predicted to reach one billion in the next three years. Technically speaking, Indians are ready to embrace DTx. 

Creating  DTx is substantially less expensive than developing a new pharmaceutical entity. For DTX, economies of scale work better than for pharmaceuticals. DTx will prove to be pocket-friendly literary.     

However, the industry must do much more to make DTx successful in India. To give this industry a good start, the following 4+4 Ps must function together. The policymakers, industry partners, physicians and the pharma industry must come together to ensure the right product with physical evidence, pricing and promotion.  

Policymakers: Unlike western countries, the Indian DTx market is unregulated. There is an urgent need to regulate the market so that non-substantiated applications don't fool the patients. 

Players: Instead of viewing each other as competitors, industry players must collaborate as partners. The formation of a DTx association would be a huge step forward.  

Physicians/ Providers: Doctors and engineers stand at the opposite ends of the spectrum. They don't necessarily understand each other's language. Many Indian physicians tend to dismiss DTx solutions as frivolous interventions. It is critical to handhold physicians and onboard them. 

Pharma Companies: The pharma industry identifies itself as a drug provider and centers efforts on bringing novel APIs to market. DTx is not on its radar. Although a few pharma companies have invested in DTx, they are not focusing on it. Pharma needs to see itself as a provider of better patient outcomes and give DTx a fair shot. 

To make DTx a serious healthcare solution, the players must invest in the right marketing mix  

Product: A DTx must be created for Indians, keeping Indian food, culture, and most importantly, languages at the center. 

Physical Evidence: Each DTx developer must conduct trials/ studies to prove its efficacy.  

Pricing: DTx's success depends on pricing. Many international DTx are available in India; however, their use is limited because of the prices. Some Indian Pharma companies promote DTx, which are free to the patients but lack rigor, and patients and doctors don't value them. 

Promotion: Since the physicians and pharma companies currently have limited interest in DTx, Direct to Patient (D2P) promotion to build awareness and educate patients about its proper use is exceptionally vital. It's a well-known fact that patient interest feeds doctor interest. 

Engineers are ready with digital solutions for several diseases. Given the challenges of affordability and accessibility to medicines in India, DTx can immensely help Indian patients. 

However for DTx to become a viable healthcare solution, 4+4 Ps must work in tandem; only then patients can take the help of engineers and doctors to find workable solutions to their diseases.  



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