Digital Therapeutics will Become a Major Treatment Option in the Future: Kohta Satake, CEO of CureApp
In past few years, healthcare system is adopting technological innovations in Therapeutics. How is digital therapeutics beneficial for patients suffering from chronic diseases? What is the accuracy rate of apps?
In Japan, the law was revised in 2014, making it possible for digital therapeutics to be approved by the government. Existing treatments have focused on pharmacological drug treatments and surgical hardware medical device treatments. However, it is difficult to completely cure chronic diseases, such as lifestyle diseases, with drugs alone. It is necessary to provide support for patients outside of medical examinations in the home and elsewhere through behavior therapy that changes their lifestyle and thought processes. Despite this, it was difficult for doctors and other healthcare professionals to provide support outside the hospital, and treatment was limited. By providing medically correct support to patients with such chronic diseases 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, digital therapeutics promotes behavioral changes and enables the treatment of diseases that were difficult with conventional treatment methods.
In addition, we conducted a large-scale clinical trial of a nicotine addiction digital therapeutics app encompassing 600 trial participants. The results showed a difference of about 13% in the non-smoking continuation rate between the group using the application and the group not using it. This demonstrates the outstanding clinical value of the app, with the effectiveness of this treatment being comparable to other smoking cessation aids.
How is digital therapeutics more effective than conventional methods?
Digital therapeutics may be highly effective for diseases that were difficult to treat with conventional methods, and we believe that it will become a major treatment option in the future. For example, in for lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, conventional medical treatments using medicines and medical devices have not been able to resolve the lifestyle habits that are the root cause of the illness. Also, conventional treatments are mainly focused on slowing down the progression of the disease. In contrast to this, digital therapeutics is a lifestyle-based approach to eliminate the root cause of illness.
There are diseases that are suitable for drug administration, surgery, use of digital therapeutics, and a combination of these treatments. Considering these treatments, the spread of digital therapeutics expands the range of treatments available, which I feel can contribute to ensuring that more patients receive treatment for diseases.
As we know that millennial population is more tech savvy. But the population of baby boomers is increasing. Are the senior citizens adaptive to use tech devices? Which factors make these innovations user-friendly?
It is of course important to provide medically correct support in order to bring out the therapeutic effect with digital therapeutics, but I think that improving the user experience (UX) is also an important factor. Our products are developed with a great emphasis on the UX so that everyone can use them easily and continuously. The use of smartphones is gradually increasing even among elderly people, and we have designed a UX that is easy for such people to use. We feel these advancements in usability are making it possible for apps to be used by elderly people at the same level as the younger generation to achieve the desired therapeutic effect. In fact, when looking at the results of using digital therapeutics in our clinical trials, the elderly population do not have lower usage rates and success rates than the younger generation.
How are the technological innovations helping these both populations to track their daily activities associated with their health?
Technological innovations are making it easier than ever to get a variety of health information. For example, in addition to the patient actively inputting information into the app, it is possible to increase opportunities for acquiring information through interactive communication, such as prompting patients to use app through notifications. Moreover, by linking with IoT devices, etc., you can automatically obtain detailed and accurate daily health information.
Further, since digital therapeutics links such daily patient information to the doctor, it is possible for doctors to know the patient’s condition outside of interviewing the patient in the examination room – something that the doctor previously could not know. With digital therapeutics, it will be possible to improve the quality of medical treatment on the doctor’s side and improve efficiency.
What are the factors restricting the growth of digital therapeutics market? What need to be done to overcome these factors?
I think, one of the few factors that limits the growth of digital therapy market is that the systems in place cannot keep up with the rapidly advancing technology. For example, a program called Pre-cert has already been implemented for software updates in the United States, but in Japan support for such remains unclear. In the future, how these systems catch up to such technological advancement will be a key of contention, and I think it is necessary for the companies like us to take action with outlook for the future.
As COVID-19 crisis is hampering every sector. How is CureApp dealing with the crisis?
We do not believe that there will be any significant impact on product development or provision. In addition, our first app is a nicotine addiction digital therapeutics app, but due to the influence of COVID-19, the adverse effects of smoking, and medical treatments utilizing online and digital technologies are attracting attention. To this end, I feel that expectations for digital therapeutics in general, and those for smoking cessation (nicotine addiction) are increasing.
Neha writes articles on sectors including medicine, food, materials, and science & technology. A qualified statistician, she has the ability to observe and analyze the trends in global markets and write compelling articles that help CXOs in decision making. She is a bookworm and loves to read fiction, lifestyle, science and technology. Neha comes with 6 years of experience in content writing and editing that involves blog writing, preparation of study materials and OERs.