Abhishek Shah

The author is the Co-founder and CEO of Wellthy Therapeutics, a digital therapeutics company

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‘Digital Medicine: Innovation In Healthcare’

Digital medicine, with the help of sensors, digital diagnostics, or mobile apps, can efficiently provide real world patient population data outside of hospitals and clinics and ensure improved self care behaviors and even richer doctor consultations in the future

‘Digital Medicine: Innovation In Healthcare’
‘Digital Medicine: Innovation In Healthcare’

The world over, critical processes are being transformed by emerging technology – and healthcare is no exception. In the healthcare ecosphere, technological advancements such as cloud-based storage systems, electronic medical records, wearable medical devices, and remote monitoring have not just changed the very face of the sector but have also considerably improved patient outcomes.

A recent report estimated that global digital medicine would reach a massive US$ 18.6 Billion by 2029 while growing at an impressive CAGR of 23.5%. (1) Practitioners, regulators, and physicians across the globe are delving deeper into the possibilities of digital medicine. This brings us to the all-important question:

What is digital medicine and why is it necessary?

In the simplest of terms, digital medicine utilizes tech-led tools for measurement and intervention in the healthcare space. From a simple app that tracks your daily steps to a complex IoT-connected pacemaker, a diverse set of services fall within the ambit of digital medicine. (2)

In the digital age, where most systems are powered by data, digital medicine is no different. By using highly innovative hardware and software, digital medicine focuses on the collation of evidence or data that can be broadly used for prevention, treatment, and recovery. The end goal remains improving the quality of life for patients.

In a world where the prevalence of lifestyle disorders is growing, improved real-world outcomes are keys to a high quality of life. Digital medicine, with the help of sensors, digital diagnostics, or mobile apps, can efficiently provide real world patient population data outside of hospitals and clinics and ensure improved self care behaviors and even richer doctor consultations in the future

While real-world data offers real-time information on the health and status of a patient by consistent monitoring through products like apps and wearables, real-world evidence maps the benefits and drawbacks of these products, allowing numerous counterparts of the healthcare field to rely on them for better patient care. (3)

Mapping the benefits of digital medicine

In the current scenario, we are looking at a greater focus on digital medicine and the larger digital health space. The COVID-19 pandemic, which threw the healthcare space into a frenzy, has thrown digital solutions for healthcare into sharper relief. While the ongoing shift was the response to the crisis, digital medicine, and digital therapeutics will become a critical component of healthcare in the near future thanks to their multidimensional benefits. Here’s looking at the benefits of digital medicine for different cogs within the healthcare space:

Aiding medical practitioners

Digital medicine brings real-world data and evidence to the center stage. Information on patient health and care delivery such as patient-generated data is routinely captured. This helps doctors better monitor their patient’s health to make better, data-driven decisions regarding treatment plans, essentially enhancing the delivery of healthcare for every individual.

With the same intention, we started Wellthy Therapeutics which acts as a gateway between the patient and the doctor in accompaniment to traditional healthcare. After a patient is prescribed medicines and tests, doctors identify those who need assistance with improving their self-management. These patients then sign up on the Wellthy CARE app, an interactive portal that acts as a personal medical assistant. It allows patients and doctors to chat with each other and reminds patients to take medicines or log in their hours of walking.

Empowering patients

Digital medicine makes for more personalized healthcare. When tech-led digital medicine solutions such as digital therapeutics platforms come into the picture, patients have more hands-on participation in their prevention, treatment, or recovery plan. This gives patients greater access to quality healthcare and leads to reduced clinic/hospital visits, thereby saving additional costs for patients.

Enabling remote monitoring

Remote monitoring via DRx platforms has shown clinically validated outcomes for conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart failure. With the help of digital medicine, patients and doctors can identify early signs and symptoms of conditions and seek early interventions to solidify the possibility of positive outcomes.

This also plays a major role in improving the quality of life for those with chronic conditions. Hospital visits and stays are reduced and disease awareness and management move in a favourable direction.

Easing the burden on health infrastructure

The COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to ravage the nation in recurring waves, has occasioned havoc on the health infrastructure of the country. The need for technological prowess to reduce this burden is clear and urgent. Digital medicine, by increasing disease awareness among patients, encouraging compliance to treatment plans, allowing remote monitoring and progress tracking by doctors, can exponentially decrease the overall burden on the healthcare infrastructures.

Doctors can intervene when required while mapping disease progression and ensuring early detection in case intervention is not needed. Simply put, by making rich data streams easily available, digital medicine will unlock a new paradigm of medical care.

The main stakeholders of digital medicine – patients, clinical care providers, regulators, physician-scientists, and traditional med device companies – are pushing for further innovation in this space. It is only with continued research and development that more sophisticated monitoring tools and methods will be introduced, further improving outcomes by impacting the speed, efficiency, and accuracy of treatment. Much more is anticipated from the digital medicine space. This, decidedly, is just the beginning.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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