Digital therapeutics swallowing the hard pill or….?

While the physical act of swallowing a pill is the easy part, the emotional part of getting diagnosed is felt through your body, mind and soul. The stereotypically crappy experience of our health & care system pre and post-diagnosis does not make the pill swallowing easier.

At the same time the EROOM law has been in effect and finding those drug(able) targets is getting more and more difficult with rapidly declining R&D productivity.

Joining Bayer was my first foray into and inside a Life Sciences company When I first started with Bayer, I had the pleasure to participate on a Pharma panel at the 2016 Health 2.0 Santa Clara. Pharma industry have been talking about beyond the pill for decades, but the industry is still largely talking about it, because the word pill is in that sentence and the phrase is anchored in it.. Thats what I stated.. Below was the mis-quote from the reporter :)

“Pharma has been talking about beyond the pill for 10 years now. The pill is old,” Borukhovich said. “We really need to lift the digital health portion rather than the pill.” — Source:

While data shows that biomolecular innovation have contributed to an amazing rise in our human longevity already, the EROOM law and hence our deeper understanding of biology over time is certainly been driving much more customized and personalized approach to health.

During the twentieth century, U.S. life expectancy at birth increased by almost 30 years(63%), from 47.3 years in 1900 to 77.0 years in 2000. — Source: []

Outside of the health care industry we have witnessed an “experience economy” first coined actually all the way back in 1998. As individuals, health consumers, caregivers, nurses, doctors and patients we have seen the world around us change towards improved experiences from hailing a ride, to getting something to your door same day, largely thanks to the evolving technology advancements and the brilliant people around the world in large or small companies that deeply understand the consumer and individual insights and behaviors.

Enter digital therapeutics on the scene.

“Digital therapeutics (DTx) deliver evidence-based therapeutic interventions to patients that are driven by high quality software programs to prevent, manage, or treat a broad spectrum of physical, mental, and behavioral conditions. Digital therapeutics form an independent category of evidence-based products within the broader digital health landscape, and are distinct from pure-play adherence, diagnostic, and telehealth products.” — Digital Therapeutics Alliance

I won’t go into the history of DTx that according to Wikipedia dates back to 2012 as a term and for the more current updates on DTX suggest you check the latest and greatest on DTA’s website. The keys to digital therapeutics, aside from it being clinically validated, evidence based and reimbursable are the feedback loop, personalization, ease of use and finally experience that in many cases is still underpinned by human intelligence such as health coaches.

In the past few years, Pharmaceutical industry began investing in and working with digital therapeutic companies but typically looking at DTx as a wrap-around the pill or in a Pill+ fashion to both: defend pricing AND enhance real world outcomes of the molecular therapy for the patients. Given it’s too early to understand the true scale of DTx and the predictability of value pool shifts, the big question remains if the pharmaceutical industry will swallow DTx companies as a companion tool or the experience economy driven by DTx leaders with health guides and coaches will swallow the molecular pill as one of the many ingredients.

As always curious on your thoughts 💭 and critical feedback.

Serial Intra & Entrepreneur, Founding Board Member of YourCoach Health , Health 2.0 NYC & AMS & DUS, Husband, Father to 2 gr8 girls. Views always my own!

Serial Intra & Entrepreneur, Founding Board Member of YourCoach Health , Health 2.0 NYC & AMS & DUS, Husband, Father to 2 gr8 girls. Views always my own!