With more industries offering on-demand options, it’s time for health care to follow suit. One way we’re able to provide increased access to care is through digital therapeutics, which deliver treatment through mobile devices including smartphones.
Digital therapeutics are used to enhance many areas of medicine, including chronic disease, mental health, sleep disorders and weight loss. It’s prescribed in two ways: to replace medication or used along with medication. At Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network, we mainly focus on using digital therapeutics to supplement medication and help with behavioral aspects of a condition.
Here’s an example of how it works: Patients diagnosed with depression or anxiety are typically placed on medication. With digital therapeutics, they can also participate in a personalized online behavioral therapy program for eight to twelve weeks. While working through the online program, patients receive a check-in from a clinician on a weekly basis to see how they are doing and provide encouragement as needed. Through this digital behavioral therapy, patients are continually assessed for improvement and have a connection to their care team in the event their condition does not improve.
Digital therapeutics are also helpful in monitoring chronic disease, such as diabetes. There are programs that directly download blood sugar readings and allow patients to record when they take their medications, what they eat during the day, how they exercise and more. Care teams can then review the data to get a holistic picture of the patient’s health and determine if any tweaks need to be made to treatment.
Digital therapeutics are greatly beneficial to health care teams due to the additional information that provides a more complete picture of a patient’s health. There’s also the opportunity to intervene between office visits if a patient experiences any health issues.
Patients also benefit from this newer technology:
- Convenience – patients are able to participate in their treatment or therapy as their schedules allow
- Self-empowerment – the patient has control over using the tools
- Customizable treatment – digital tools can be customized to each patient
- Increased access to care – digital therapy can be accessed 24/7 and is available when patients can find time to engage
- Alternative to medication – some people prefer to address their health conditions without medication
Digital therapeutics will continue to expand within the next five years to include more aspects of medicine. To learn more about how these treatment options may benefit you, contact your primary care physician. To find a primary care physician near you, reach out to your health insurance provider.