How this emerging field is poised to take the healthcare industry by storm
By: Paul Sinclair, Client Solutions Lead
Headspace. Calm. MyFitnessPal. Talkspace. Apple Fitness+.
By now, we’re all accustomed to at least one health-focused app that provides us with ways to track and manage our physical and mental well-being. However, most apps that can be downloaded on consumers’ smartphones are not typically regulated, nor is there any clinical evidence that can prove the products’ claims.
That said, there is an increasing interest in a new category of medicine called Digital Therapeutics (DTx), which are designed to prevent, treat, or manage specific types of conditions (for example, PTSD or type 2 diabetes) and often require a prescription from a physician.
Like other advancements in innovative therapies, such as cell and gene therapies, DTx is a young, rapidly growing field with many unknowns. How DTx products are developed, evaluated, and approved is not well-established. Nevertheless, they are becoming increasingly accepted by both the medical community and patients alike.
Here, we want to take a closer look at what these therapies actually are – including a few examples – along with how the market and talent landscapes are evolving.
Digital Therapeutics Defined
Digital Therapeutics are a subset of Digital Health, a broad category within the Healthcare industry that includes everything from Wearable Medical Devices, Clinical Intelligence, Diagnostic Imaging, and Remote Monitoring technology.
The term “Digital Therapeutics” has been in use for about a decade and according to the Digital Therapeutics Alliance, “Digital therapeutics (DTx) deliver medical interventions directly to patients using evidence-based, clinically evaluated software to treat, manage, and prevent a broad spectrum of diseases and disorders.”
What’s unique about DTx products is that they are primarily software products, although there is often a hardware component, such as wearable sensors.
While these therapies have received some criticism – Can apps really make a big difference in health outcomes? – DTx products require a significant amount of scientific testing, evidence, and rigor to bring to market, and the efficacy of many of these products is promising, if not already approved by the FDA.
To illustrate, let’s take a look at a few examples.
3 Examples of Exciting DTx TreatmentsWhile the concept of DTx may seem outlandish, when you see these therapies in action it’s easy to see just how much potential there is for these treatments to transform healthcare. For example…
MEDRhythms is a company focused on neurologic music therapy (NMT), using the power of music, technology, and neuroscience to help people who have suffered neurologic injury or disease, such as stroke or Parkinson’s Disease, improve their walking.
Better TherapeuticsBetter Therapeutics is focused on developing prescription digital therapeutics that treat cardiometabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, via cognitive behavioral therapy.
Applied VR utilizes virtual reality technology to develop immersive therapeutics that are focused on the management of chronic pain. Their RelieVRx product (formerly EaseVRx) was recently approved by the FDA, giving patients access to a new way of managing chronic lower back pain (CLBP) without the use of medication.
What’s Next: The DTx Market Is Poised for Rapid Growth
Due to the increased awareness and acceptance of DTx products, it should come as no surprise that funding for DTx companies and products is expected to see significant growth.
Insider Intelligence recently reported that they now expect DTx to be a $56 billion global opportunity by 2025 (they previously expected this number to reach only $9 billion). They claim that “Over the next five years, there will likely be an uptick in merger and acquisition (M&A) activity and closures among DTx companies. Pharmaceutical companies will likely also become active acquirers of DTx providers, and large M&As are a key sign of market maturity and future growth.”
The increased interest in these therapies can be attributed to several factors, including the move towards value- and outcomes-based healthcare that seeks to cut costs while empowering patients to do a better job managing their chronic conditions. It also comes in the wake of the opioid crisis where health care providers (and government regulators) are increasingly wary of overprescribing for conditions like chronic pain.
The COVID-19 pandemic is also a tailwind for DTx as it accelerated interest in – and utilization of – digital health solutions, including remote monitoring and telehealth.
In other words, the moment couldn’t be more opportune for DTx products to take the healthcare industry by storm. As Insider Intelligence puts it, “Those that choose not to get on the DTx bandwagon might miss out on a massive opportunity—and drug companies and medical device makers that don’t jump at the chance of linking up with DTx providers risk losing market share to emerging competitors.”
The War for DTx Talent
Of course, with almost any rapidly evolving industry that has grown faster than anticipated, the competition for top talent is only going to increase. Beyond the need for experts that can navigate challenges across the regulatory process, DTx companies also need Software Developers, Data Scientists, and other technologists who can all work in close collaboration to accelerate these products through FDA approval.
Over the last two years, Mix Talent has been building a team of Talent Consultants that eat, sleep, and breathe DTx. We have been making the effort to become the “go-to” Talent Acquisition and HR Consulting agency for Startups and SMEs within this space, helping them attract, hire, and retain top talent.
If you are searching for qualified candidates that fit the culture, vision, and strategy of your DTx organization, check out our article Digital Therapeutics: 3 Tips For Finding Talent In This Growing Segment and don’t hesitate to reach out to learn more about our DTx recruiting practice.