Digital-native start-ups and healthcare incumbents can both play important roles in building and scaling digital therapeutics to improve the management of chronic health conditions.
Around the world, the burden of chronic disease is increasing at a rapid pace. Unfortunately, most of these conditions are irreversible and need to be managed through lifelong medication use. However, many patients struggle with adhering to prescribed medications and implementing the behavioral and lifestyle changes that are needed to manage their diseases and stabilize their conditions. Often, physicians and other healthcare providers have little ability to monitor the extent to which patients are following their recommendations and maintaining treatment regimens. As a result, disease burdens at a population level are higher than they should be.
These challenges have created a need for comprehensive disease management solutions that are best enabled by digital technologies. In 2021, global digital health funding grew 79 percent over the previous year to reach $57.2 billion. Much attention and funding have flowed toward digital therapeutics, which can include multiple points of intervention along the patient journey, including monitoring, medication adherence, behavioral engagement, personalized coaching, and real-time custom health recommendations. Within digital health, funding for digital therapeutics (including solutions for mental health) has grown at an even faster pace—up 134 percent from the prior year to reach $8.9 billion in 2021.
The impact potential here is significant, both in terms of clinical outcomes and economic benefits for stakeholders and societies. For example, research has shown that digital disease management can drive a 45 percent reduction in the three-month rate of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACEs) and a 50 percent reduction in the 30-day readmission rates for patients after acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Similarly, it can help lower hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels by one percentage point among patients with type 2 diabetes. These data points illustrate the extent to which digital disease management can help save lives while also keeping patients healthier, which reduces costs for many stakeholders, including the patients themselves.
Research has shown that digital disease management can drive a 45 percent reduction in the three-month rate of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACEs) and a 50 percent reduction in the 30-day readmission rates for patients.
Many players are trying to disrupt the disease management space and develop new innovative models to manage chronic diseases. New-age start-ups bring radical, unconstrained perspectives, while incumbents contribute a much more detailed understanding of the challenges and various stakeholders. Ultimately, both start-ups and incumbents have critical roles to play in disrupting the space and scaling up solutions.
Digital therapeutics can play an important role in chronic-disease management
Author: Chirag Adatia, Ralf Dreischmeier, Samarth Shah, and Kirtika Sharma
Source: McKinsey & Company