Late February was a celebration of sorts: in-person conferences were back?!? (Yes, and it was awesome.)
But there is more to it. This was an event where we uplifted each other. I am reminded of the late Paul Wellstone and his mantra, “We all do better when we all do better.” I felt that message as I roamed around the conference. As a rapidly growing group of innovators representing pharma, medical device, digital health, design thinking, payers, employers, veterans, Asia, Europe, and investors…we could not be more different, and yet for three days we were united.
As a professional, I’ve missed seeing people in person and the stimulating conversation that naturally happens when different perspectives are shared. I’m grateful to everyone I met and for the interesting topics shared. The DTx group is all about helping each other – we pass on learnings and if it can help another person to do better, faster, or easier, that’s the goal. Here are some of the trends that stuck with me.
Passion for our patients is the reason we keep innovating and trying to expand medicine and healthcare in new ways. Keep the patient in your bullseye and clearly articulate what problem you are solving for them, and everything else will follow. This focus on the patient is key to fundraising, product design, clinical trials, and so much more.
I’d also add that as innovators, we need to be patient, too. Speakers noted that the reality of time to commercialization is almost always longer and with more curveballs than anticipated. To quote a panelist, there are “no shortcuts!”
“Show me the data.”
Personalized, responsive, and custom care is a shared goal, and for that we all must show proof with clinical data and outcomes. Providers need to trust the digital therapeutic – so keep your efforts to conduct clinical trials, real-world settings, qualitative context, and engagement all moving forward. Some audiences have different expectations. For example, one speaker hears from innovative employers who want adherence and satisfaction data to help them make DTx decisions. Researchers offered tips for knowing when you have the right evidence for the regulators and how to capture evidence in multiple moving parts vs. one single effort. Speakers shared practical advice, lessons learned, and support for the shared need to produce well-designed clinical evidence, such as pros and cons for internal, outsourced and hybrid clinical trial models.
Unlock new combinations
Much like medication “cocktails” have changed the course of medicine and patient outcomes, so can adjunctive combinations which include digital therapeutics. Cancer experts talked about how oncology treatments can’t help every patient concern – like fatigue, nausea, anxiety. How can DTx for these symptoms enhance and extend standards of care? This idea of software as medicine alongside traditional treatments played into another combination theme – treating the whole person. Many speakers spoke at length about comorbidities and the unmet need to look at the whole person, which technology can help with. Trying new combinations traditional and digital therapeutic to holistically care for patients is the future.
Find the ‘easy’ button
You’ve unlocked new treatment approaches. You have a digital therapeutic laser-focused on the patient. Your data is flawless and compelling. DTx has arrived, right? Wait. Not so fast. We still must make these revolutionary treatments easy. Friction for the patients, the providers, the payers, the employers, the regulators….Ease of use and reimbursement are critical. As an industry we shared so many ideas – direct-to-consumer engagement, provider-led treatments, platforms, EHR integration, marketing, prescribing education, security, and more. None of it actually sounded easy to execute, but the talented group of entrepreneurs gathered in that room for three days can-and-will do it.
To everyone who shared their expertise, offered advice, and lifted us up at DTx West, thank you. Our industry is passionate, caring, and innovative. Until next time…
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