Pharmacy Care Evolution: A Look at the Digital Therapeutics Terrain

Technological advances shape the boundaries of industries and how we interact with them.

Friday night visits to the video store have been replaced with picking up our remotes and turning to our preferred streaming services. Long gone are the days of rolling out of bed to grab a bite from our favorite restaurants because there is an app for that, too.

Digital technology can make our lives easier, so there should be no surprise that ingenuity in tech could also impact individual healthcare goals. The emergence of digital therapeutics (DTx) is growing and could soon shake up the pharmacy and diagnostic landscape.

DTx in-pharmacy could manifest in several ways. Pharmacists could see their responsibilities expand to prescribing digital therapeutics, providing access to point-in-care diagnostics, helping customers identify digital health tools for their needs, setting up and configuring medical devices and health apps, and interpreting the data from DTx.

What Are Digital Therapeutics

DTx are software-based tools intentionally designed to help patients meet their health goals. The Digital Therapeutics Alliance (DTA) defines digital therapeutics as solutions that use high-quality software programs to deliver evidence-based therapeutic interventions to prevent, manage, or treat a medical disorder or disease. The organization adds that DTx can be used independently or with medications, devices, or other therapies to optimize patient care and health outcomes. 

According to the DTA, the number of companies considering their software a DTx is rising. The Digital Therapeutics Alliance says that is because the apps meet basic criteria – they are digital solutions that operate in the healthcare space. 

However, the organization says an app must align with the industry’s core principles to be considered a DTx. The product must demonstrate a positive therapeutic impact on a patient’s health by helping patients treat or alleviate a disease, disorder, condition, or injury. 

Examples of DTx software include apps that were developed to prevent, treat, or manage medical conditions related to chronic pain or diabetes management and cardiovascular or mental health.  

DTx and Pharmacy Care

Pharmacy teams should know that the evolving healthcare landscape could include pharmacists who are responsible for bridging the gap between traditional pharmaceuticals and the exciting world of DTx. 

In the near future, digital companions may accompany medications as an integral part of the treatment process, and digital therapeutics might take precedence over traditional pharmaceuticals. This transformation could potentially revolutionize the patient care journey and redefine the role of pharmacists. 

Pharmacists are poised to evolve beyond medication management experts and transform into digital health curators and coaches. In this developing role, they could guide patients in selecting the most suitable DTx solutions, assist in setting up these technologies, provide education on their usage, support self-management, offer guidance on interpreting results, facilitate the seamless integration of patient data into electronic health records (EHRs), and possibly troubleshoot devices if patients run into tech issues.  

How The DTx Legislative Landscape Could Impact Pharmacies

The DTx industry is currently valued at $6.77 billion and is expected to grow to $28.66 billion by 2030. Recently, a bill was introduced to the United States House of Representatives to ensure healthcare professionals who treat patients using DTx are compensated, too.  

The Access to Prescribing Therapies Act was introduced to Congress in 2022 and reintroduced in March 2023. Representative Mike Thompson presented the proposed law that would amend titles XVIII and XIX of the Social Security Act. 

 If passed, the bill would create a prescription DTx payment methodology for Medicare and Medicaid coverage and reimbursements. The law would limit coverage and payment to digital therapeutics cleared or authorized by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and prescribed by a healthcare provider. 

The Future of Digital Therapeutics

With each passing year, the bond between consumers and tech grows stronger.  

It is now estimated that 85% of Americans own a smartphone. Some experts believe high smartphone usage combined with the introduction of apps designed to help patients treat chronic illnesses could be the most significant driving factor of DTx growth.  

Business analysts also believe more businesses are interested in breaking into digital therapeutics. Experts suggest effective health management among patients drives demand for more DTx solutions, thus encouraging more players to enter the market.  

The compound annual growth rate for the digital therapeutics industry from now through 2030 is predicted to hit 22.9% in the US. 

Overall, digital therapeutics represents an evolving field at the intersection of technology and healthcare that has significant potential to improve patient outcomes and reshape healthcare delivery. The legislative and regulatory landscape is adapting to accommodate this emerging sector as it expands. 

Share this article