Technology is ubiquitous throughout all of our lives and healthcare is no different. We are currently working on ground breaking psychedelic medicines that we hope will revolutionise the treatment of a range of mental health conditions, such as depression. But we also believe that the future success of any new compounds coming to the market will depend on the ability to offer personalised care by ensuring technology is part of the compound development programme.
We are moving closer to being able to deliver this. Currently many compounds come to market with companion apps, which support patients during their treatment, offering information on side effects, education on their diagnosis and much more. This is great but we need to deliver more to patients, healthcare professionals and healthcare systems and the rapid development of the digital therapeutics market enables us to do this.
Software provides the opportunity to deliver truly personalised medicine in mental health conditions. Capturing passive data through inbuilt sensors in a mobile phone, such as sleep, movement, or even typing speed and active data through user engagement means a patient can be monitored remotely in real time. The data collected can be used to predict how a patient is responding to treatment, and potentially to identify early signals of relapse.
The passive data captured from personal devices, such as phones and wearables, gives patterns of behaviour unique observable traits and enables a digital phenotype to be built for an individual patient. By understanding an individual’s digital phenotype, changes to behaviour can be identified and appropriate interventions made. Passive data capture enables healthcare professionals to deliver more personalised care to mental health patients.
It has always been difficult to accurately diagnose, assess and treat mental health conditions. This is because the very act of a patient focusing on how they are feeling can negatively impact their condition. Remote passive data collection removes some of these barriers, improving diagnosis, enabling tailored treatment, early identification of decline and personalised intervention. This is very important in engaging the patient in their treatment programme and optimising outcomes. It also has a significant impact on the value delivered to the healthcare system optimising resource utilisation.
It’s not just about digital. We believe a hybrid model, with initial in-person psychedelic assisted psychotherapy followed by ongoing treatment via a digital therapeutic, will deliver the most effective mental health treatment. Prescribing a digital therapeutic, which is focussed on optimising the long-term response to treatment and minimising relapse, will deliver the most value. We believe this approach will help patients to engage better with their treatment plan long-term. In addition to supporting patients with their primary diagnosis, the digital therapeutic offers the opportunity to support patients with other comorbidities from which they are suffering (e.g. diabetes).
Software ultimately enables truly personalised medicine with benefits that extend beyond the individual. Not only can a prescription digital therapeutic be personalised and ‘learn’ over time to further refine treatment, but the technology can deliver data sets that can help life sciences companies to create better treatments and more holistic care packages, which deliver better outcomes for patients and healthcare systems.
Prescription digital therapeutics can have positive implications not just for the individual patient and the future of treatment for one condition, but for the broader healthcare system. By integrating technology, applying software solutions not just to manage mental health conditions but in connection with a range of comorbidities, we can dramatically improve resource utilisation across the healthcare system.
Software enables us to personalise medicine, intervene earlier and more effectively, or identify mental health patients who are relapsing earlier and try a different approach. This can free up the time of medical professionals and potentially reduce the cost of managing a particular illness dramatically over the lifetime of the patient’s condition, while delivering better outcomes for the patient.
Ultimately, the successful integration of technology creates value for healthcare systems by enabling them to optimise resources. We believe that prescription digital therapeutics, combined with breakthrough compounds and novel treatments, can revolutionise our approach to mental healthcare. Most importantly, this will not be at the expense of in-person patient care. The hybrid model will enable physicians to devote more time to delivering better care in the areas where it is needed most.
Article by Becky Hutchinson, Commercial Director at Beckley Psytech
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