The acceleration of investment in digital health and adoption of health-related apps triggered by the pandemic, which aimed to expand access at a time when access was difficult and health care needs were growing, may be harming the particularly important subset known as digital therapeutics (DTx).
Health apps constitute a broad category, focusing on everything from health and well-being to treatment of disease. They may be unvalidated or based on limited evidence, essentially a caveat emptor situation. Digital therapeutics, in contrast, deliver medical interventions using evidence-based, clinically evaluated software, with a focus on treating, managing, and preventing diseases and disorders such as asthma and musculoskeletal pain. A growing problem with digital therapeutics, a subset of which are prescribed by clinicians, is that they often have a less-than-rigorous evidence base than should be expected.
If you had depression, you’d expect a self-proclaimed digital therapeutic to decrease your risk of self-harm. If you had diabetes, you would expect a digital therapeutic to provide the correct recommendation for an insulin dose. But the only way to be sure these therapies are working as expected is if a solid evidence base underpins them.
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