7 questions: the Digital Therapeutic Alliance’s Pierre Leurent
In the fourth in his series of articles with speakers from this year’s Frontiers Health conference in Berlin, Marco Ricci speaks to the CEO of one of the founding companies of the Digital Therapeutics Alliance, Voluntis‘ Pierre Leurent.
Where do you think technology is likely to make the biggest change to healthcare?
Changes in healthcare are often driven by innovations in technology. In this era of healthcare, we have seen connected devices, electronic medical records (EMRs), and digital platforms introduce an avalanche of data into the system. This has provided patients, providers and payers with a wealth of information; however, when that data is not integrated back into the direct delivery of patient care, we lose the value of its initial purpose.
In our case, digital therapeutics (DTx) represent a new generation of healthcare that uses innovative, clinically-validated disease management and direct treatment technologies to enhance, and in some cases replace, current medical practices and treatments. These tools rely on sophisticated clinical algorithms to transform this massive wave of technology-generated data into clinical treatment. What used to be unfiltered, unmanaged data is now able to provide actionable insights, enabling people getting the right answers at the right time. These technologies will improve the immediate provision of direct care, in addition to the frameworks and standards that guide clinical practice.
What role will pharma and technology organisations like the Digital Therapeutics Alliance play in the adoption of technologies in healthcare?
What often surprises people is that pharmaceutical manufacturers and DTx companies have started to create strong relationships in this space, working together to promote the adoption and integration of DTx tools into mainstream healthcare. We have complementary capabilities, and thus complementary roles.
DTx companies play a pivotal role in designing relevant, disruptive solutions that engage patients and their providers. To accomplish this, they create innovative kinds of patient-centric interventions based on a robust scientific foundation, conduct human factors testing, gather clinical evidence to prove meaningful healthcare outcomes, and obtain regulatory clearance in all appropriate jurisdictions.
Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies play a pivotal role in running large-scale clinical and economical trials, obtaining reimbursement for these services, distribute DTx solutions to healthcare providers, gather real-world evidence, and combine digital treatments with their medications and/or their patient support programmes.
What areas of healthcare are in need of digital disruption?
Chronic conditions place an incredible burden on patients and healthcare systems around the world. We have seen that purely medication-based chronic disease treatments have not yielded sufficient real-world outcomes to reverse the growing incidence and severity of these conditions.
DTx solutions, used either as companion or standalone treatments, greatly benefit patients, providers, and payers who are managing chronic conditions. They account for patient preferences and tailor to peoples’ clinical needs, goals, and lifestyles. This can lead to improvements in the real-world safety, adherence, and efficacy of chronic disease treatments.
What obstacles remain that are preventing faster uptake of disruptive technologies?
In late October, we launched the Digital Therapeutics Alliance to bring together key industry players dedicated to improving healthcare quality, outcomes, and value through optimising the use and integration of DTx solutions. This is a rapidly-evolving environment and it is important that we work with regulators, patient advocacy groups, providers, payers, and manufacturers to establish foundational industry frameworks and standards.
Through our work, we will address the integration of DTx solutions into existing healthcare clinical decision support frameworks and provider workflows (including EMRs), in addition to identifying pathways to coverage and reimbursement, assessing the value and impact of DTx solutions in clinical practice, and encouraging data-driven integration and utilisation of DTx solutions across the healthcare industry.
Where has technology made the biggest impact in healthcare to-date?
While technology has changed hospital and administrative workflows, it has also changed the way people access information regarding their healthcare. Healthcare has often been one-sided, with patients playing a submissive role in their care. However, with the advent of patient-facing technologies and tools, peoples’ view on their disease, and their ability to manage it, has changed. Technology is being used to empower patients – and that is an advancement for which we should all cheer.
Regarding your own background, where do digital therapeutics fit into healthcare and how can they improve it?
DTx acts as a facilitator in healthcare, improving communications in the patient-provider relationship. For every patient, we try to find the right balance between autonomy (the patient being empowered by the solution to self-manage his or her condition) and reassurance (the patient being followed and supported by the remote monitoring of his or her care team).
In Voluntis’ case, digital therapeutics are created as a medication companion. Our vision is that digital companions are prescribed with treatment to provide the guidelines that support optimal adherence or dosage and, ultimately, improve the real-world value of the treatment. We work hard to make a positive impact for patients and providers every day, with a specific focus today on helping diabetes patients better manage their insulin therapy, and cancer patients better manage the symptoms associated with their treatments.
In addition to the clinical benefit they bring to patients and healthcare professionals, we believe these new solutions will contribute to advancing value-based care, as we now have better ways to capture patient-level data in real-time. This data can be leveraged to assess patients’ responses to their treatment in a quick and effective way. Outcomes-based payment models are bound to spread for various kinds of healthcare products and services, and DTx will contribute to enabling these new reimbursement models which are aligning among healthcare stakeholders, and increasingly important, considering the rising economic challenges faced by healthcare systems.
What do you think are the most promising technologies in the improvement of healthcare?
Digital therapeutic treatments, of course!
Frontiers Health will take place in Berlin, Germany on 16-17 November 2017. Pierre Leurent will be delivering a keynote presentation and moderating a panel discussion on day two of the event. To find out more, click here.