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During The COVID-19 Pandemic, Digital Therapeutics Has Helped To Reconnect Patients And Doctors

During the COVID-19 pandemic, DTx solutions have helped to reconnect patients and doctors. Digital health tools are proving to be invaluable for patients with chronic disease and for medical professionals

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The year 2020 has been a watershed moment for the world and the medical fraternity. It has changed the face of health care delivery as we knew it. As the management of COVID-19 took centre stage, patients with other chronic conditions had no choice but to avoid or postpone their in-clinic visits. However, they were still asked to be vigilant about their health, because those with diabetes, heart complications, and obesity were more vulnerable to the virus. This turn of events compelled many patients with chronic conditions and their medical professionals to look for digital technologies to aid disease management. This is where digital therapeutics proved to be invaluable.

Digital therapeutics (DTx) is defined[1] as ‘evidence-based therapeutic interventions’, supported by high quality software programs, to help patients prevent, treat or manage a number of conditions. While DTx entered the market more than a decade ago, I believe that its value has truly been recognized and appreciated only now, at a time when the solutions it offers serve a critical need in the self-management of chronic diseases. During the lockdowns, there has been an even greater need for patients to self-manage their condition and react in real-time, while still having their doctor monitor their case remotely. Once again, DTx has come to the rescue.

Digital therapeutics delivers results

DTx has great potential in the management of diabetes, for which we already have evidence. For example, a recent study presented at the American Diabetes Association’s virtual conference shared data from 286 diabetes patients who used a digital therapeutic solution to manage their blood sugar over a period of six months. Participants reported a significant drop in their blood glucose level in the first two months, which was consistently maintained from the second to the sixth month. Glucose variability reduced progressively by up to 40% and there was an 80% reduction in the number of hypoglycemic events.[2] 

Or, consider the case of Sudheendra, a 47-year-old patient with diabetes, who diligently followed his doctor’s advice about taking his medicines regularly and checking his blood glucose (BG) levels daily, while also logging all his BG readings on the Wellthy DTx platform. His health coach helped him make healthy changes in his habits, such as regular exercise, better meal planning, and a routine for his BG testing. Sudheendra followed all of this meticulously. 

Which is why he was very surprised one day when his heath coach suggested he consult his doctor. As it turns out, Sudheendra had an hypoglycemia episode and his BG level was dangerously low in the 60-80 mg/dl range, which is something he had not realized. His health coach had analyzed his BG readings and provided real time and instant feedback, that led him to seek medical help. When he spoke to his doctor, he was surprised to realize that his low BG levels could have caused him to collapse while walking. His doctor reduced his medication and encouraged him to keep a closer watch on his BG level and report back when it changed. Such is the potential of DTx to ensure patients get real-time support and the necessary help they need and reduce the possibility of an adverse event. 

Continual, remote but personalized care

During the pandemic, the reliance on telemedicine and teleconsultation has increased. But while tele-consultation offers patients face time with their doctor, it does not offer a solution to fill the void in communication and care between appointments. In many ways, DTx fills in this gap by providing continuous monitoring and care to benefit patients with chronic disease, for whom self-care needs to be simplified. It also benefits their doctors who can use the logged in data to analyse any gaps in the patient’s management of the disease. Using technology to better control chronic disease must become the new normal as we continue to make our way through the pandemic and even beyond.  

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. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Dr. Jitesh Bhatt

Lead - Clinical Product, Wellthy Therapeutics

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