Updated: May 18, 2022
The old joke “there’s an app for that!” has finally come for the healthcare industry as medicine moves into the uncharted waters known as Digital Therapeutics (DTx). You might be familiar with the broader category of Digital Health, which includes stuff like the Fitbit designed to support healthy lifestyles or a “smart” blood pressure cuff that does some on-the-spot analytics. These tools are used to collect data and assist a physician, whereas DTx are designed to actually treat a condition using smartphone apps and connected sensors and devices.
DTx aren’t just cooked up by programmers slamming Red Bull—they’re generally supported by clinical research and approved by a regulatory body; the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is in the process of formalizing an approval track for DTx right now. Many are prescribed by physicians, and insurers are increasingly willing to cover them. So your chances of encountering a digital therapeutic—as well as the hype surrounding them—are increasing every day.
There’s a bit of a “gold rush” mentality surrounding DTx right now, with companies racing to get in on a market that’s predicted to be worth more than $50 billion by 2025. So it’s reasonable to wonder if the DTx you’re being urged to use is a real, effective treatment or the product of an overheating market frenzy, especially since you can count the ones approved or cleared by the FDA on two hands with fingers to spare. Here are the DTx in different categories that have real evidence behind them.