Digital Health and the Management of Chronic Disease

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Publication Date:
June 2020
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Essential strategies for developing next phase digital health solutions

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated and elevated the role of digital health and could serve as a turning point for digital platforms to become the normal "must have" way of working. Payers, HCPs and patients have become comfortable with digital health technology and as the sector evolves pharma is challenged to focus on advanced clinically-based digital tools that can be proven to improve outcomes for patients with chronic diseases. Effective digital solutions will win the support of stakeholders and, in time, may even be a regulatory requirement.

So, what are the specific issues around chronic disease management that pharma needs to address with its digital health strategy? To answer that question we interviewed, in May 2020, expert industry and digital technology specialists. In Digital Health and the Management of Chronic Disease they identify the key payer, patient, physician and technology priorities and touchpoints that should frame pharma's thinking.

Experts explore key questions such as...

  • How have digital business strategies changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • To what extent is pharma's investment and interest moving towards the development of clinical-grade digital solutions that will directly impact patient outcomes?
  • What evidence will stakeholders need in terms of clinical validation data to demonstrate the impact of digital health technologies in specific therapeutic areas?
  • What do companies need to take into account at the planning stage of a new digital solution in terms of feasibility, user desirability/interest and commercial viability?
  • What do developers need to do to ensure that health professionals are willing to prescribe digital therapeutics?

What our experts say...

"First you need to agree with all stakeholders that this is primarily for making sure that people actually get better disease outcomes. That is the number one thing that a digital health solution should target. Also, it costs a lot of money to develop these digital solutions; way less than developing drugs, but there will always be a lot of sceptics in the companies that need to be convinced. Therefore, they need to build a business model and find out how a certain digital tool can either make prescribers prescribe more of your drug, or have preference for your drug, or increase the dose of your drug, or make the patients remember to take their drug, for example."
Anders Dyhr Toft

"I think that the more innovative and thoughtful the company, the more that they are having the innovators, the leaders, and the experts get involved earlier. Most of the time, the right moment to start thinking about digital medicine, digital solutions, is in Phase II and Phase III. If a product is five or six years from being used in patients, a commercially viable digital therapeutic is probably premature. A digital medicine product that could help the clinical trials, that's different because then you're talking about what is actively being deployed during that stage. But I think that, if you have a late stage Phase II product, you should be thinking about your digital medicine strategy. If you have a Phase III, you have to be. And it's not to say that every single product will benefit from a digital medicine companion or correlative product, but at a minimum you need to know if it wouldn't. You should at least answer the question to yourself because if you're not, your competitor is."
Ed Cox

"Instead of making it [the digital solution] a technology driven innovation, we'll make it needs-based innovation. Find out what you need data for [then] find out what technology is geared to cater for that. I often see the opposite. People say, okay, let's do AI. What problems can we solve with that? That is not the right way. That would be my number one key message. And my number two key message is really geared to less work or less burden for the patients. If it's a solution that gives more work to the patient, then it's not going to be a success. And then my last message would be, it has to improve disease outcomes otherwise it's really not worth anything."
Anders Dyhr Toft

What to expect

A detailed report exploring the role and development focus of digital health technologies to improve outcomes for patients suffering from chronic disease:

  • An examination of 10 key issues that impact digital health development strategy and thinking
  • 30 targeted questions put to industry and digital experts
  • Their responses which provided 73 insights supported by 80 directly quoted comments

Expert contributors

Experts contributing to this report have been screened to ensure they have:

  • The ability to provide insights into key digital health developments in their own company, specifically in relation to treating patients with chronic diseases
  • An understanding of the potential for personalized digital solutions to improve patient engagement and health outcomes in chronic disease
  • Knowledge of how digital health solutions can add value for all stakeholders (e.g. through improved adherence to treatment)
  • Knowledge of current trends in the development of digital health solutions aimed at empowering patients and their doctors to better manage chronic disease
  • An understanding of the challenges facing pharma and technology company partnerships working towards realizing digital health ambitions.

Contributors include

  • Eugene Borukhovich, an entrepreneur, venture builder, speaker and board advisor with a focus in digital health. Eugene is a Chairman and Founding Board Member at YourCoach Health and founder of Initium Impact Ventures. Prior to YourCoach, Eugene served as Global Head of Digital Health at Bayer.
  • Ed Cox, the Global Head of Digital Medicine & Executive Vice President, Strategic Alliances at Eversana. Ed was previously CEO at Dthera Sciences. He has served as chair, moderator, or speaker at many other digital therapeutic and digital medicine events throughout the world, including DTxDM, DTx Europe, LSX World Congress and CNS Summit among others.
  • Chandana Fitzgerald, Chief Medical Officer at HealthXL is a medical doctor with work, research and educational experience across European, American and Asian markets. After a brief stint at hospitals, she has engaged extensively in leadership positions in the digital health space to bring innovations that bridge gaps in healthcare.
  • Ron Kamienchick, Senior Director, Commercial Lead, AI and Analytics Products, leading Teva's initiatives around advanced analytics and predictive modelling. Previously, as Senior Director, Digital Health, Head of Diagnostics and Personalized Medicine, he was focused on commercialization efforts for Teva's Connected Respiratory, primarily ProAir and AirDuo Digihaler.
  • Dr Patrick Merel, founder and CEO of Portable Genomics from 2012 to 2019. He also participated in the creation of Edico Genome in 2013, a bioIT genomic company, sold to Illumina in 2018. In 2004-2005 he was consultant for Beckman Coulter to move the company into the molecular diagnostic business. Previously, Patrick had an academic career building and running molecular diagnostic, genetic and genomic clinical settings as well translational research platforms at Bordeaux Blood Bank Center and University Hospital of Bordeaux, France.
  • Joel Sangerman, Chief Commercial Officer at Click Therapeutics. Click created the term Digital Therapeutics in 2012 based on the premise that mobile software can be an effective treatment for people with unmet medical needs. Speaking regularly at major health conferences on how and why Click products are being adopted for population health strategies has led to over 150 healthcare payers using Click's clinically validated digital therapeutics.
  • Cynthia Castro Sweet, PhD, Senior Director of Clinical Research & Policy, Omada Health. Cynthia has a doctorate in clinical psychology with a speciality in behavioural medicine. She was a staff scientist at the Stanford Prevention Research Center for almost two decades managing federally-funded clinical trials of community-based, chronic disease prevention programmes. She left academia in 2015 to join Omada Health and manages Omada's portfolio of research studies to validate the clinical efficacy and economic value of their disease prevention and disease self-management programmes.
  • Anders Dyhr Toft, an experienced leader in the pharmaceutical industry, with an educational background as MD, PhD and eMBA. He has led organizations within Commercial Innovation including Digital Health, Medical Affairs, Clinical Operations, Regulatory, Quality and Safety.
  • Gareth Morinan, Chief Scientific Officer at Machine Medicine, UK.

Why choose FirstWord ExpertViews reports?

FirstWord's ExpertViews reports reveal the real world insights of knowledgeable experts to analyze in detail key commercial and market trends that pharma management need to understand if they are to effectively respond to critical developments. These highly-focussed reports:

  • Are based on primary research with experts whose knowledge and current experience is proven
  • Present clear insights and actionable intelligence
  • Include only the latest primary research and findings—we don't recycle content or pad-out our reports with secondary source material.