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Digital health tools are retooling the pharma industry


The digital health revolution continues to reshape the Pharma industry, creating new ways to engage patients, advance development, and create greater adherence.
Editor: Matt Longman Last Updated: 12-Mar-2021

Digital health has revolutionized nearly every aspect of health care, including the future of pharma. The pharmaceutical industry is embracing digital health tools, in a variety of aspects, to advance how patients take medications and deliver new support resources. Looking toward the future of digital health and pharma integration, innovating the patient experience from clinical trials to adherence to tracking outcomes are central to what lies ahead for the industry.

Advancing the drug development process

Pharma is incorporating the use of digital health to remodel its approach to clinical trials. With the start of the pandemic, pharma leaders were faced with unexpected challenges in maintaining clinical trials while not having direct access to patients. Digital tools helped to maintain trials, allowing companies to better find and track participants, and in some cases even diversifying the pool of patients.

The advanced use of AI and machine learning as part of digital health tools is also being used by pharma to rethink the drug discovery and development process. By using digital health tools that capture patient behaviors, health data, medical challenges, and drug interactions, biopharma innovation is becoming more efficient and less costly. Digital health tools as part of the clinical trial process allows for a greater connectivity to patients, able to capture feedback in real-time, and yields a greater field of data through direct input from patients themselves.

Focusing on specific therapeutic areas

Instead of thinking about digital health as a wide-open concept, pharma is homing in on its applications for specific therapeutic areas that can be tailored to the specific needs of each segment. From oncology to rheumatoid arthritis to COPD, each therapeutic area offers unique issues and challenges, with different approaches. Digital health tools that are specifically designed to help patients manage their therapeutic areas deliver effective patient education, provide support for side effect management, and guidance toward medication compliance and improved outcomes.

Future advancements in digital health will be able to present data to demonstrate the value of solutions. As more patients and pharma invest in digital to support therapeutic areas, platforms can quantify the impact of their technology in those specific therapeutic areas. This level of clinical validation, with new data and outcomes as reinforcement, will soon become the new normal. Correspondingly, pharma is increasing its support for more targeted digital health innovations that shift beyond the pill to extend greater value to patients.

Supporting medication adherence

Pharma is also seeing success in using digital health tools to help with medication management. Grown from simple pill reminders, today’s digital drug companions provide patients with a complete digital engagement to help walk through the medication journey. When digital drug companions are used in conjunction with medications, especially specialty meds or those with complex dosing schedules, patients achieve greater adherence and increased first dose rates – areas where pharma has struggled for compliance in the past.

Digital drug companions also help monitor and identify patients who may become non- adherent to their drug therapy and deploy interventions to help right course patients. This action enables providers to intervene in a timely manner for improved chronic condition management and patient satisfaction. After all, medication only works if the patient actually takes it.

Medication adherence isn’t the only value add among digital drug companions. When deployed in tandem with drug therapies, digital health tools can leverage aggregate patient data to optimize medication that improves outcomes and reduces costs. These insights are derived from predictive analytics captured in wearables and patient-reported data, presenting

valuable information about whether a medication may need to be adjusted, and how likely the patient is to be adherent based on symptom improvement and quality of life.

Tracking patient outcomes

The ultimate sign of success is positive patient outcomes. The use of digital health tools enables pharma to gain greater insight into the tracking of patient outcomes that demonstrate the long- term value of their medications. While pharma continues to face criticisms about medication costs, using digital health tools that demonstrate the impact to patients’ lives creates greater momentum for payers to cover medication costs and enable more patients to gain relief.

The potential for digital health to track outcomes of patients, both in the short and long-term, creates tremendous value in the introduction of new therapies. Digital health tools can also reduce barriers to access for patients through more direct-to-consumer channels that make it easier to implement reimbursements. Payers are already adding more value-based arrangements that reimburse for a drug based on specific patient outcomes as demonstrated through the use of digital tools. Platforms used by pharma clearly show the value a medication can bring.

It’s clear that digital is no longer just a nice-to-have for pharma companies – it’s a necessity for ensuring that patients have the best possible outcomes in modern healthcare systems.

With digital tools and techniques able to improve almost every aspect of a pharma company’s business, from R&D to sales, there’s no excuse for not implementing digital transformation at every level. As we look to the future of pharma and digital health, this shift is set to entirely reshape the healthcare ecosystem and how patients interact with their health. The pharma revolution is underway and digital health is the driving force.

About the author:

Omri Shor is the CEO of Medisafe, the leading digital companion platform that provides personalized treatment support to more than 7MM users. He is an expert in digital medicine applications and works closely with major pharma companies in developing and guiding direct connection to patients via innovative platforms to support improved health and treatment, with customization and guided treatment.