The Medullan team attended the 4th annual DTx West Conference, held virtually this year on February 23-25, 2021. This year’s focus was digital therapeutics and how the industry can “accelerate digital therapeutics into the hands of patients.” In a 4 part series, our team recorded critical takeaways from select sessions of the conference.
Part 3: A Working DTx and Payer Relationship
On Day 2 keynote session – A Working DTx and Payer Relationship – Kenneth Snow (Clinical Portfolio Medical Director at CVS) and Anand Iyer (Chief Strategy Officer at Welldoc) spoke about how LifeScan, Welldoc, and CVS/Aetna partnered on a study to understand the impact of a connected device (OneTouch Reveal Plus) and mobile engagement solution (BlueStar) on clinical data points, healthcare utilization, medication adherence, economic data, and patient engagement.
Some takeaways that stuck out to me were:
Partnerships unlock value for all key stakeholders: patients, providers, and payers
Healthcare is challenging, and organizations do not have the broad competencies required for all needs. Partnerships, like the one between LifeScan, CVS/Aetna, and Welldoc, allow for subject matter expertise to be brought together to ensure the best possible solution for all stakeholders and unlock value in ways that no single organization could do alone.
In the Lifescan, CVS/Aetna, and Welldoc study:
- Patients benefited from providing a patient-centric solution – a glucose meter coupled with a behavior change solution to assist the user with making long-term, sustainable choices.
- Providers benefited from higher quality care and results for their patients, without additional overhead for them.
- Payers received insight into a proof of concept for a solution that lowers healthcare utilization, reduces costs, and improves outcomes, in addition to depths of insight provided by Welldoc into the specific engagement mechanisms that lead to positive outcomes.
A patient-centric, value-creating solution like this would not have been possible without the partnership that these organizations formed.
User engagement can be a leading indicator of therapeutic benefit
Anand Iyer shared how digital therapeutics can unlock opportunities to collect and analyze data points along the patient journey and map specific patient behaviors to meaningful clinical outcomes.
In this example, Welldoc compared two patient cohorts with access to the LifeScan solution, comparing engagement habits in the app and eventual clinical outcomes (HbA1c). From the data captured in these two cohorts, the Welldoc team was able to pull out that “the behavior of annotating notes is a predictor of reduction in HbA1c. These examples of engagement habits can be significant predictors of later clinical outcomes.”
The Welldoc team analyzed past data within the digital solution and meaningfully related leading indicators (notes annotation) to eventual clinical outcomes (HbA1c reduction). The potential here is immense – imagine if an app could predict your eventual sobriety habits from 2 weeks of interactions in an alcohol abuse app. Or if 4 diary entries by day 10 led to 8 pounds lost by day 32. The possibilities of behaviors as leading indicators of meaningful health change are endless, and we’re only skimming the surface.
Clinical effectiveness is no longer enough
For adoption of DTx, the traditional therapeutics metrics aren’t enough. Showing clinical effectiveness is insufficient to convince someone to adopt a digital therapeutic – to remain competitive, a DTx needs to demonstrate the efficacy, patient and provider satisfaction, patient and provider engagement, workflow integration success, healthcare utilization, economic data, and more.
Commercial success with DTx solutions requires a meaningful and intentional evidence generation strategy that directly addresses your customers’ pain points. Customers have been burnt with digital before, and investment will only come for proven solutions.