Simply put, digital medicine is centered around technologies in the medical industry. The tools can be used for measurement and intervention for the service of human health. This type of technology is not just restricted to one format. But it’s a hybrid between hardware and software technology. The aim is to support medical practices across the board. This includes treatment, recovery, disease prevention and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle amongst the population.
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Digital medicine products can be used independently or have a direct link to fields such as pharmaceuticals, biologics and other relevant devices. Products can be used to optimize patient care and health outcomes. The purpose of digital medicine is to empower patients and healthcare providers likewise.
It helps them gain access to intelligent tools to address a wide range of conditions through data-backed interventions. Digital medicine relays focus on the responsibilities concerning the use of digital tools. There’s no room for assumptions in this tech, and everything is evidence-based.
Digital medicine concerns those individuals who practice traditional medicine. This ranges from pharmacists to physicians to health navigators. It can also include medical researchers who are interested in getting to know more about the behavior and general health of the population.
But this technology is also accessible to patients, who play an active role in its development. This is possible due to the decentralization of care outside hospitals, clinics or labs. Digital medicine intends to expand the horizon of medical practices.
Examples of Digital Medicine
Here are some examples of digital medicine products:
- Measurement Products: It includes digital biomarkers, especially vocal ones, that can track a change in tremor for a patient with Parkinson’s disease. Basically, it’s a culmination of tools and equipment to measure adherence and safety, such as wearable sensors that can track your movements.
- Intervention: This includes products such as digital therapeutics and connected implantables. One such example is an insulin pump. Digital therapeutics deliver evidence-based therapeutic interventions to patients. It’s driven by sophisticated software programs to prevent, manage, or treat a medical disorder or disease. Intervention is used independently or in concert with medications, devices, or other therapies. This aids in the optimization of patient care and health outcomes.
- Combination Products: This is a hybrid of the two products mentioned above. One such example is glucose monitors used by diabetics. The device shares patient data automatically with their doctor’s office using a companion app. The degree of human interference may vary in the cycle between measurement and intervention. This cycle may become more closed-loop, with less need for human intervention in response to routine changes.
Recently, the development of the “artificial pancreas” has combined the CGM with an insulin pump backed by a computer-controlled algorithm. This allows the system to automatically adjust insulin delivery to lower high blood glucose levels, which reduces the likelihood of low blood glucose levels.
Understanding Digital Health Products
The term digital health was coined in the late 2010s but was recently brought to the limelight due to its countless advantages. It’s an umbrella term that encapsulates digital medicine. Broadly, the term includes health apps, fitness trackers and even electronic health data.
Here are some products included in digital health:
- Fall Alert Products: Such products can notify your loved ones that you have just fallen and need medical assistance. There are various apps in the market, but Medical Guardian has a diverse range. The starting fee is only $30. It has an at-home system that can detect falls from upto 1400 feet. The app can be integrated with your landline, AT&T or Verizon cellular. It has a battery life of upto 5 days, which makes it the ideal portable device. However, the fall detection cost per month is $10.
- Remote Blood Pressure Monitors: With the aid of digital health, you no longer need to visit the doctor to check your blood pressure. This is made possible through the help of smart blood pressure monitors. The data is collected and sent to the application on your phone. This allows people to track any rise or dip in their blood pressure levels. CareSimple is the best device in the market for this purpose. It provides an easy, accurate and reliable way to measure a patient’s systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Blood pressure readings taken with the CareSimple BP monitor are synced in near real-time with both the CareSimple clinical portal and your electronic health/medical record.
Difference Between Digital Medicine, Health and Therapeutics
Digital health pertains to tracking health information and ensuring that accurate and reliable data is relayed to the end user. In contrast, digital medicine tracks health information and collects data. This is then used to measure or manage one’s health condition. Digital therapeutics tracks and collects health information and makes treatment changes based on your current health information.
Simply put, digital health is a broad term that covers everything digital aimed toward improving one’s health. Digital medicine is based on evidence and works in a specific manner. Whereas digital therapeutics can help treat health conditions and adjust treatments or dosage accordingly.
Here Comes the FDA
As digital health is a broad term that directly impacts the end user. Hence, regulatory authorities need to get involved. FDA generally does not regulate many wellness apps and devices on the market. But it will become involved if a product or app makes a medical claim about their technology. Which mostly relates to accuracy or reliability. If an app claims it can diagnose or treat insomnia, then the FDA would want to review the evidence to support that claim.
The Benefit of Digital Medicine
As digital medicine collects and analyses data, it can give one a good picture of what to expect healthwise in the coming years. It empowers patients to self-manage their health before things become worse. This can be done through regular monitoring and symptom tracking. The technology can be used to detect health conditions before things go from bad to worse. Therefore, such platforms are of immense value for respiratory disease patients and those classified as ‘at risk’.
The Age of Digital Pills
This is an evolving department of digital medicine that will scale in 2023. The purpose of digital pills is to track if the patient has ingested their prescription medications. So that monitoring of results and side effects can be done accordingly. If a patient misses a dose, a notification will be sent to the medical health provider. It can be used to monitor either serious illnesses or a change in lifestyle habits.
There are three major elements of DP:
- An ingestible sensor.
- A wearable patch.
- Mobile application (connected to an internet server).
Even if one of the above is missing, digital pills are useless. Once the patient swallows a pill, an ingestible sensor sends a signal to a wearable patch. This then transmits data to a web-based portal. This portal would only be accessible to the individual’s healthcare providers and relevant personnel. This is important so that the confidentiality of patients remains intact. The objective of DP is to help improve medication compliance. But there are still some grave concerns that are left unanswered by healthcare providers.
Digital Medicine: The Future?
The concept of digital medicine is here to stay. And in 2023, much more focus would be relayed toward its implementation. Such events aim to create awareness about the use of digital medicine. It may seem like a scary concept to someone who is afraid that robots will one day take over. But this is further from the truth. The purpose of such conferences would be to explain to individuals how getting involved with this tech can expand their lifespan. By detecting diseases when they are in the early stage.
Featured Image: Pharmaceutical Technology