Digital therapeutics are a growing focus within the digital health ecosystem, as funding, clinical validation, and product reimbursement gain momentum. We analyze the accelerating adoption of digital therapeutics and how they can improve patient outcomes.
As healthcare increasingly goes digital and remote, digital therapeutics can make care delivery more comprehensive, personalized, and affordable.
Digital therapeutics (DTx) encompasses software-driven therapeutic inventions that treat, manage, and prevent disease. While DTx have been used for several years, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought new focus to the tech, highlighting DTx as a viable method for delivering treatments remotely.
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Early pioneers in the space — such as Voluntis and Pear Therapeutics — are diversifying their DTx product pipelines by building new digital tools that address various conditions, including multiple sclerosis, oncology, and epilepsy. Meanwhile, health incumbent players are ramping up R&D efforts and business relationships to expand into the sector.
Below, we dig into how digital therapeutics work, the current state of the market, opportunities looking forward, and more.
Table of contents
- What are digital therapeutics?
- Where the opportunity lies
- The current state of the market
- The outlook for digital therapeutics
- Looking forward
What are digital therapeutics?
Digital therapeutics deliver software-driven therapies that treat, manage, and prevent disease. These therapies can be delivered through a variety of technologies, including mobile-apps, virtual reality and connected devices.
Like traditional drug therapeutics, DTx must be evidence-based and clinically validated by clinical trials and peer-reviewed research. Current use cases include mental and behavioral health, cardiometabolic health, nervous system disorders, and more.
The broader DTx space is still in its nascent stages — meaning there’s ample opportunity for companies creating DTx to diversify targeted therapeutic areas and expand geographically.
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A BRIEF HISTORY OF DIGITAL THERAPEUTICS
The concept of digital therapeutics has been around since the early 2000s, with the first patent mention of the term in 2007. Startups have been working to develop and validate DTx products for several years.
The space picked up momentum in 2017 when the Digital Therapeutics Alliance was founded and formally defined what qualifies as a digital therapeutic. In the same year, DTx pioneer Pear Therapeutics received the first FDA approval for its prescription digital therapeutic for substance use disorders.
Today, the industry is expanding, as multiple players develop DTx for a growing list of health conditions and patient populations. Payers, startups, and government institutions alike are working to develop new reimbursement models and updated regulatory pathways for these software-based therapies.
Where the opportunity lies
GROWING DTx RESEARCH solidifies trust, expands treatment areas
While several DTx products have received regulatory approval and are available for commercial use, the digital therapeutics space remains in its early stages.
Payers, providers, and patients are looking to the steadily growing body of peer-reviewed scientific research to establish trust in these new treatment methods while comparing the value that DTx deliver over traditional medications.
Since 2016, the number of peer-reviewed research publications mentioning “digital therapeutics” has increased nearly 35X, reaching 380+ articles released in 2020 alone.