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New Tools Improve Patients’ Ability to Take Control of Own Treatment

As a result of the technical evolution, patients with chronical diseases will be able to improve their ­disease management. New digital health solutions and related apps will provide new opportunities for patients and health care professionals.

The life science industry has witnessed an acceleration in applied technologies such as the Internet of Things, wireless connectivity, cloud computing and AI. In combination, these advancements have the potential to transform healthcare processes. Recent developments in digital health technology such as connected drug delivery devices and dedicated disease management software can give patients and health care professionals an improved overview of treatment related data and improve the ability to adjust and control treatment.

”The development in technology and the opportunity to build an ecosystem that can help structure a patient’s health related data is an important step towards individualised treatment and medicine. The technology can help the patient take the right medicine and dosage at the right time. Over time, I expect further additions to the ecosystem that will allow the patients to understand the impact of additional factors such as nutrition, sleep and exercise in a structured way.” says Søren Krogh Knudsen, Head of Nordics, at PA Consulting.

If the digital solutions can help patients get in better control and understand the impact of their life style choices better, it will be a help to patients and as well as their families that are often closely involved in the daily disease management
Søren Krogh Knudsen

Mobile applications and software that is a medical device on their own – Software as a Medical Device (SaMD) – can become an integrated part of the patient’s daily life. In combination, and subject to patient consent, these products can potentially facilitate data collection across patient groups with the view to increase understanding of diseases, treatments and patient behaviour.

This insight can be used to improve treatment options and guidance to patients.

”Mobile applications can help patients with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, to manage their treatment and take preventive actions by keeping track of, for example, nutrition, sleep and exercise. In this connection, a key enabler for development of good digital solutions is the willingness for patients to share data and for solution providers to use data responsibly to the benefit of the patients. This requires that the authorities ensure that legal and regulary governance both supports the development in this space and safeguards the patient’s interests” Søren Knudsen says.

An integrated universe

Soon, medical systems may be connected by integrating sensors in the drug delivery devices that send data to an ­application and communicate with a drug- and user platform.

“Over time the platform should become the focal point that combines data from several input sources. In the case of diabetes, you could for instance combine data on blood sugar and medicine dosage with nutrition, exercise and sleep. It’s about creating a system that is coherent and easy to manage, so you as a patient can monitor your treatment and lifestyle in a broader sense,” Søren Knudsen says.

When the many data points are gathered, the patient is empowered with insight into his or her condition and the disease management can help the patient monitor treatment and effect continuously.

“Longer team, one can create a huge data imprint where a coalition can be formed to analyse data across groups of patients to understand, for example, nutrition implications better,” Søren Knudsen says.

A trend to follow

A report from The Danish Diabetes Association shows that 66 percent of the 300.000 Danish diabetic patients are fearing a diabetes chock caused by an overuse of insulin. And it is still difficult for patients with a chronic disease to maintain the right dose.

“It is my understanding, that patients with diabetes may have lower quality of life because the treatment is demanding to manage and the potential side effects of not being in control are severe. If the digital solutions can help patients get in better control and understand the impact of their life style choices better, it will be a help to patients and as well as their families that are often closely involved in the daily disease management,” Søren Knudsen explains.

The new digital solutions can facilitate nudging techniques and, thereby, increase treatment adherence with great benefits for individual patients, their relatives and society at large as chronic diseases have a huge impact, including high financial costs.

“With the expected future offering of many competing SaMD products and other healthcare and lifestyle apps, a challenge for patients will be to choose which products to trust to give good guidance and whom to share their personal treatment and health data with. The life science companies have a big responsibility in this connection but is also important that authorities and patient organisations look across the ecosystem help ensure the right balance across the opportunities as well as dilemmas that the new digital products will bring,” Søren Knudsen says.

There is no doubt that this will be an interesting market to follow in the coming years. Currently, the trend is new platforms being launched by the largest companies in the world gathering immense data sets. At the same time, small businesses are launching apps and new patient support systems almost weekly. The ecosystem will emerge as the result of the combination of these trends.

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