There is no such thing as a minor cardiac incident. Whether it’s a case of an intermittent angina or an
acute discovery of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – life is never the same afterwards. For millions of
Americans, life after a cardiac event is often filled with new challenges that fundamentally change every
aspect of their lifestyle. And given recent trends, cardiac issues are rapidly driving more hospitalizations
than ever before, particularly for the 65-years and older demographic.
The State of Cardiac Health
In fact, heart conditions are fast becoming a leading cause of hospitalizations and projected to spike an
alarming 50% in the next 25 years. In the US alone, more than half of all adults suffer from some form of
chronic conditions, with about 40% suffering from two or more such conditions. In aggregate, this reality
poses a threat to not only 70% of all patients but to the welfare of the economy as well – draining nearly
USD 2.7 trillion in healthcare allocations every year.
Unsurprisingly, heart disease is at the top of this list with nearly 25% of all deaths (about 655,000) every
year. The real tragedy is that about 80% of such cases are preventable by adopting a number of strategies.
The reality of this trend is very real – Congestive heart failure care can no longer be considered an issue restricted
within the walls of healthcare institutions. In an age of increasing digitization, medical practitioners now
have the means to influence a wider outreach with virtual outpatient care.
Digital Solutions Driving Lifestyle Changes
The rise in digital therapeutics today offers the healthcare industry all the benefits of major industry, such
as purpose driven software, connected devices, artificial intelligence, and data analytics. Already, we are
seeing how people prone to chronic ailments are leveraging digital solutions to meet their healthcare
goals. Everything from telemedicine services to health-devices are seeing a major adoption by consumers
who are taking a proactive and preventative approach to personal health.
Today, it’s possible for a smart watch to detect signs of a rising arrhythmia or spiking blood sugar and
trigger notifications to emergency services autonomously. Heart conditions easily fall within the same
spectrum of chronic conditions like diabetes and respiratory issues. And given the major impact lifestyle
choices can have in mitigating heart conditions and enabling outpatient care, there’s no doubt that digital
therapeutics can be effectively deployed towards altering patient outcomes
The Potential of Digital Therapeutics
There are two major areas where digital therapeutics (DTx) can have meaningful impact on patient health.
Firstly, it’s in enabling better lifestyles and habits among those people who are at risk or in dire need of
behavioral change. And secondly, in ensuring a continuity of care within an outpatient model for high-risk
patients. This latter category becomes all the more prescient when we consider the impact that the
COVID-19 pandemic has had on our healthcare system in general. According to the American Society of
Preventative Cardiology, there are over 72 million patient visits relating to cardiac issues every year, and
the last year has seen significant delays and deferrals of visits due to fear of the pandemic. Moreover, it
has also caused increased stress and anxiety which further exacerbates any cardiac conditions already in
In this respect, the use of DTx for virtual outpatient care is critical to saving lives. And by leveraging the
consumer technology platforms from phones, webcams, mobile apps, and personal computers, it’s
actually a reality that can be achieved. By using these technologies to gather real-time patient data and
processing it through healthcare analytics models – we can help patients make better choices, alter their
behavior, and offer stress mitigation. In some cases, DTx solutions can also be designed to take on
proactive measures using cognitive behavioral therapy or personal coaching as well.
This soft-touch/nudging approach, can be further expanded by deploying high-level technical solutions
such as AI-powered personal coaches and real-time diagnostic testing (blood pressure, glucose
monitoring, weight, activity, etc.). With all this data in play, DTx solutions can react and engage with
patients to inform them of their actual condition in real-time while also offering encouragement and
support for positive behavior.
In case of serious post-surgical cases as well, implanted sensor data right from the patient’s heart can be
used to enhance traditional treatments. With this approach, doctors can easily be made aware of a
patient’s medication use, regularity, and response, while also being shown the results and effectiveness
of the treatment and the monitoring data of the recovery period. These actionable insights can be
delivered in an easy to engage manner, allowing medical professionals to offer timely advice or
corrections as needed.
Towards the Future of DTx
With our current rate of technology advancement, we are close to detecting and proving secondary
prevention of atrial fibrillation and malignant arrhythmias. The use of cardiac implantable electronic
devices (CIEDs) with tele-monitoring can already save lives. The integrated heart rate response technology
can monitor patient activity and increase heart performance during periods of necessary strain such as
physical therapy. With a multi-parameter approach, even implantable cardiac resynchronization
defibrillators (CRT-Ds) and cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) can act autonomously to drastically improve
Ultimately, we’re only on the cusp of true digital transformation in human health. As medical implant
technology becomes safer and more common, the wealth of data it generates will truly transform how
we treat patients. As we work with Industry 4.0 today with its Digital Twins, tomorrow will be the era of
Healthcare 4.0, where DTx will leverage digital representations of patient health that offer lifesaving
predictive solutions. Until then, we must drive and adopt new innovations in DTx, so that not a single
avoidable death be ascribed to the words “if only”.
If you are a pharmaceutical and are exploring to know more about Chronic disease management for Congestive Heart Failure Patients. Read More