Digital Therapeutics: A Panacea for Care or Overvalued Health Tech?

Digital therapeutics will be one of the topics discussed at INVEST Digital Health scheduled for October 26 at Health Wildcatters headquarters in Pegasus Park in Dallas. Register today!


Perspectives on the digital therapeutics industry tend to reveal the bias of the prognosticator as a glass-half-full optimist or glass-half-empty pessimist. Not enough clinical data vs. inadequate payer reimbursement. Many of the apps produced by digital therapeutics companies are designed to complement care plans for people prescribed a specific drug or diagnosed with a particular disease. The goal is to help users make changes to their diet and lifestyle, and track side effects so that dosages for medications can be adjusted. They may also be used to provide clinicians and biopharma companies with a window into how patients manage their condition, making them appealing to contract research organizations responsible for managing clinical trials.

Digital therapeutics will be one of the topics discussed at INVEST Digital Health. Held in collaboration with Dallas-based accelerator Health Wildcatters, the conference is scheduled for October 26 at Health Wildcatters headquarters in Pegasus Park. Click here to view the agenda and register.

However, the challenges for digital therapeutic adoption and reimbursement are considerable. The sector experienced a high-profile setback this year when Pear Therapeutics filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April. In a blog post on LinkedIn, Pear Therapeutics’ then-CEO Corey McCann noted the reluctance by payers to cover Pear’s digital therapeutics muted clinicians’ desire to adopt them.

Dave Hanaman is the president of Curavit Clinical Research, a contract research organization that specializes in decentralized clinical trials for digital therapeutics. In an interview with MedCity News Senior Biopharma Reporter Frank Vinluan, Hanaman said he’s optimistic that legislation could help “drive change” for the digital therapeutics industry. A bill that would expand adoption and use of digital therapeutics is with the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. Another, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, is also in Committee.

Dr. John Torous is the director of the digital psychiatry division, in the Department of Psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He also serves as medical director of behavioral health informatics for Beth Israel Lahey Health system. He believes more data is needed to validate the effectiveness of digital therapeutics for wider adoption by clinicians.

“The clinical community is excited about the potential [of digital therapeutics], but seeking offerings with higher levels of real-world evidence than is often available today. We have many pilot studies, and that is great, but we need to see the next generation of more advanced studies,”  Torous said.

Torous added: “As the market moves to competition based on this real world and high quality data, we hope to see a new generation of more engaging and effective software”

Lin Health developed an app for pain recovery that’s designed to guide patients through a customized care plan using mental health to change how patients think of their pain, in coordination with a physician.

Shira Butler, vice president, provider growth and operations with Lin Health, is bullish about the progress the company has made in terms of health systems using their digital therapeutic.

“We are seeing enthusiastic adoption by clinicians and administrators, from small clinics to large health systems, across the country,” Butler said. “The high-touch, engaging, accessible nature of digital therapeutics has been embraced, so technology doesn’t create the obstacles or skepticism that I saw pre-pandemic. For us, providers are now our primary partners in enrolling patients in care.”

Butler will be part of a panel discussion on digital therapeutics at INVEST Digital Health. Click here to register for the conference and join the digital therapeutics conversation.

Here’s a short description of the panel:

What is the Future of Digital Therapeutics?

Digital therapeutics have been around for a while but they have not gained traction even though there has been interest from regulators and some companies have even won FDA clearances for their digital treatments. Why? This panel of experts will break it down and chart a course for the future.

Moderator: Aaron DeGagne, Research Analyst, Healthcare, PitchBook