Healthcare is in the midst of a digital transformation. From telehealth visits and wellness apps, to wearable devices, remote patient monitoring, and more, it’s easy to see how digital health has been integrated into the care experience—and that momentum will likely continue as healthcare advances and technology evolves.
One exciting subset of digital health is the field of digital therapeutics (DTx), a growing treatment option driven by technology. Let’s take a moment to dive into this realm and learn about the value of digital therapeutics for cancer care.
Digital Health 101: Understanding Digital Therapeutics
According to the Digital Therapeutics Alliance, “Digital therapeutics deliver therapeutic interventions directly to treat patients using evidence-based, clinically evaluated software to treat, manage, and prevent a broad spectrum of behavioral, mental, and physical diseases and disorders.”1
In simpler language? Digital therapeutics are more than your standard mobile health or wellness app. Just like medications that undergo clinical trials before they are approved, digital therapeutics follow a similar process. Software is studied, reviewed, and certified to ensure it’s safe and effective for helping patients take care of their health.
Digital therapeutics may be used alone or paired with medications, medical devices, and other treatments. These modern, digital tools have been incorporated into the management of several chronic conditions, including cancer, diabetes, lung disease, substance abuse, and anxiety/depression.
For example, people with diabetes can download an app to track their blood sugar levels and get advice on medications and potential remedies. Or, individuals who experience panic attacks can follow a guided program employing cognitive behavioral therapy to reduce their anxiety.
Using Digital Therapeutics for Cancer Treatment
People are living with cancer as a longer-term chronic disease, which ultimately introduces a new set of challenges, including the following:
- Complexity of cancer care: The number of people affected by cancer continues to grow. In addition to traditional surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, new treatments including immunotherapies and targeted therapies are often used. Patients may see and communicate with multiple doctors during their care journey.
- More time spent outside of the clinical setting: An increasing number of cancer treatments are available as oral medications. Patients may feel unsure of how to best manage their symptoms or side effects from treatments while at home.
- Difficulties with access to care: Not all patients have easy access to specialists or cancer centers. Those who live in rural areas or who have problems with mobility or transportation may be particularly affected.
- Differing responses to treatment: No two cases of cancer are the same. Cancer growth, spread, and response to treatment varies between patients. As such, personalizing treatment to the patient is critical.²
Thankfully, digital therapeutics may mitigate some of these issues. Digital therapeutics provide personalized recommendations on what to do and when according to the patient’s treatment plan. With educational content and proactive instructions, patients feel more engaged and understand that they have a role to play in their own disease.
Digital therapeutics empower patients with cancer to manage the symptoms they experience throughout treatment and guide them through their treatment journey. The use of modern mobile applications like Oleena, the first ever prescription oncology app, aim to ultimately improve patient care from all perspectives.
Enhancing Patient Empowerment with Digital Therapies
The importance of patient empowerment³ is increasingly recognized in healthcare. Patients often feel like they are losing control, but digital therapeutics aim to change that. By putting the control back in patients’ hands, providers can engage and encourage them to take a more active role in their healthcare.
Visit Oleena.com to learn more about how digital therapeutics can help cancer patients feel connected and engaged in their care.
- Digital Therapeutics Alliance, https://dtxalliance.org/aboutdtx/
- Utilizing the Advances in Digital Health Solutions to Manage Care in Cancer Patients, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6518983/
- Luca Bailo, 2019, The Patient Perspective: Investigating Patient Empowerment Enablers And Barriers Within The Oncological Care Process, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6467453/