Every year, an estimated 100,000 Americans die preventable deaths—while others incur $100 billion in preventable medical costs—simply because they aren’t taking their medications as prescribed. In fact, it’s estimated that between 40% and 50% of patients with chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension fall into this risk category.
It’s a challenge that’s existed for decades—and one a growing number of health companies in the pharmaceutical and medical insurance sectors are taking steps to address through digital solutions that support that patient journey - from companion apps to digital therapeutics experience (DTx) .
DTx - a growing subset of digital health - is evidence-based therapeutic interventions delivered to patients through software and technology. Amidst substantial technological advancements—and a growing trend toward patient-centricity in the health space—DTx partnerships are growing increasingly popular in the health space as they help companies develop closer relationships with their customers, while meeting business objectives.
These types of deep customer experiences take work and forethought. Here, we’ll highlight a few things pharmaceutical and health insurance companies may want to keep in mind as they venture down this road.
Identify the root cause of user barriers
Today, few people go far without their phones—and that behavioral shift is transforming the health sector. A growing number of people now turn to apps like TikTok for health advice – and even more are monitoring their health and activity levels through wearable technology. In the face of these growing trends, it should come as no surprise that the global digital therapeutics market—which was valued at USD 4.20 billion in 2021—is expected to grow by a compound annual growth rate of 26.1% from 2022 to 2040.
To seize this opportunity, many pharmaceutical companies are looking for the ideal digital tool to help them create a more personalized—and valuable—user experience (UX). To be successful, these tools must go beyond offering generic articles or a new, but useless, app feature. To really forge a connection with the customer, these companion apps or DTx tools must be built on a deep understanding of the patient experience—and seek to strategically resolve pressing problems.
This is a challenging feat to say the least. In the case of medical adherence, the reasons why an individual may fail to take their medication run the gamut, varying tremendously from one person, and condition, to the next. In some instances, treatment-related barriers may be the primary cause—like the cost or side effects of a medication—while, in others, patient-related barriers, such as cultural beliefs or alcohol use, may lead to non-adherence.
To truly understand the challenges facing your particular user base, you need to build your experience with the patient in mind.
Build a patient-centric user experience
As we mentioned in our previous article, a patient-centric CX or UX is typically built on a number of foundational characteristics, including:
- A design process anchored in empathy for the end user
- Lean research to identify qualitative and quantitative customer values that may influence behavior
- Social listening practices (to stay up-to-date on what people are saying about your brand)
- High-quality data that is prepped for personalization (paying attention to source, quality and completeness) and paired with engagement or survey insights
- Corporate objectives that align with customer values
- Customer involvement in the digital development process
- Easy-to-use digital products
- Resilient, trustworthy systems
While this type of CX takes some time to develop, it allows companies to provide higher-value experiences. For instance, by employing these practices, a manufacturer of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) medication was able to determine that patients were less likely to adhere to the medication if they were in a poor mental state. To address this need, the company formed a DTx partnership with an app called Twill, which offers mindfulness and mental health support to ease depression and anxiety—conditions that are common with MS. By having access to this complimentary service, patients interacted with the company more frequently via the app, and also increased their medication adherence.
Build the right tool to solve the challenge
Once you have real-world evidence to determine why your patients aren’t adhering to their medication, how do you build the right digital solution to solve the challenge?
First off, you want to approach this phase of the journey with a data- and product-focused mindset. The ultimate goal is to create a robust, personalized program chock full of relevant content and valuable resources—while offering a seamless user experience. At the same time, the business case for creating such a tool should be front-and-center.
At this stage, health companies have a choice: they can either create their own app or other form of DTx, or they can partner with another company. If you decide to partner with a start-up, it’s important to understand that these smaller companies often operate differently than large, global organizations. Make sure to have clear contracts, resources, milestones and timelines in place when embarking on such a project—otherwise your idea may fail to get off the ground.
Whether you choose to partner with a start-up or pursue a digital initiative in-house, Appnovation can help. Our global, full-service team can help you from start-to-finish—from User Experience (UX)/User Interaction (UI) design, to user research and testing, to product design.
To learn about our full list of services, and how they can support your organization in creating an impactful DTx, contact us.