Treat-to-Target: Are digital solutions a “Silver Bullet” for patients?


At Medullan, I’ve had the privilege of working with teams creating digital solutions for health conditions of all kinds, from mental health to heart disease to psoriasis. Recently, we’ve been studying rheumatoid arthritis (RA);  the impact it has on people’s lives and the challenge in diagnosing and treating it effectively.  We’re particularly interested in an initiative called Treat to Target (T2T) which aims to clearly define standard treatment goals and therapies for patients with RA.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects approximately 1.5 million people in the US. People with RA suffer from inflamed joints which causes painful swelling and can lead to bone erosion and the deformity of joints over time. RA has no cure, but can be managed with physical therapy and medication if diagnosed early enough. The successful treatment of RA requires constant management and tracking by the patient and physician. T2T helps by providing standard measurement strategies and appropriate targets to strive for.

A primary principle of T2T is that the treatment of RA must be based on shared decisions between the patient and rheumatologist. It’s these decision making scenarios that interests me the most. How can we support the initial conversation between patient and provider? And how can we inform ongoing, routine conversations? Would a digital tool, used during their first visit, help the physician and patient diagnose the condition and decide on a proper care plan? Would another tool help the patient understand their condition, track their pain, and adhere to their medications? And would the data collected be useful for their physician to access during follow-on visits to understand the patient’s disease activity level and the efficacy of the treatment?

My thought is, “absolutely, yes!”

Our initial conversations with patients and rheumatologists are supporting these hypotheses. Our team at Medullan is busily sketching solution ideas and getting feedback from patients, providers, and payers alike. I’m excited to see what they come up with and to share the progress with you. Keep your eyes peeled for a webinar on the topic shortly!

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