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When It Comes to Digital Health, Experience Is Everything

Thanks to COVID-19 and numerous other factors, the adoption of digital health technologies used by patients in the home has skyrocketed. Accenture reported in 2021, for example, that remote patient monitoring technology adoption tripled among patients. Whether it is streaming video telehealth appointments with a provider, a remote patient monitoring platform, or a prescribed digital therapeutic to manage a chronic condition, the emphasis must be on the patient and caregiver experience.

That’s because even with the most advanced technology if patients and/or their caregivers do not enjoy using it, adherence to the care plan will drop. A poor patient experience can be detrimental to any digital health technology adoption, but for tools that help patients manage a chronic condition, a lack of engagement due to a negative user experience will likely result in a lack of adherence or abandonment of the treatment.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI), for example, is a growing chronic condition. Approximately 12% to 18% of individuals aged 60 years or older (approximately 9 million to 13.5 million Americans) live with MCI, which is manifested in early memory loss or other cognitive ability loss (such as language or visual/spatial perception) in individuals who are still able to live independently, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. While a challenging condition in itself, MCI is also an early indicator of potential Alzheimer’s Disease or other types of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease also has no effective pharmaceutical clinical pathway and is exceedingly difficult for patients and their caregivers to manage in the home.

Digital therapeutics are stepping up to help fill that treatment gap given the evidence showing that elements such as games, photos and music can slow cognitive decline. Digital platforms on a mobile tablet or smartphone can be an ideal format to access such novel treatments. As global consulting firm EY wrote in 2019: “Efforts to develop new drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease have failed. However, we can use technology in employing methods that are effective at slowing or counteracting the effects of the disease.”


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