In episode 3 of The DTx Circle podcast, Karine Soulat is joined by Aline Noizet.
Barcelona-based, above all else, Aline Noizet is a connector. Whatever area of digital health, Aline is passionate about connecting people to one another and new technologies. Having spent a number of years in Bayer’s G4A Digital Health team across three continents, as the co-founder of Digital Health Innovators Barcelona, and as an advisor to a number of startups and healthtech accelerators, she is one of the best-connected people in European and US healthtech.
Aline is currently the general manager of Digital Health Connector, a boutique consulting firm dedicated to digital health through which she works with the different actors of the ecosystem, especially corporates and startups, to have an impact on healthcare systems, patients and healthcare professionals. She is also the social network manager for Nina Capital, a pan-European healthtech investor based in Barcelona and an associate of Medstartr Ventures, a digital health early-stage investor based in New York.
Security, Frameworks and the role of DTx
Noizet’s role as a health conductor is to connect the dots in the digital health ecosystem by connecting the different people involved who can have an impact on the healthcare system.
Having been in the industry for over 10 years, Noizet became involved with organising European conferences, and has seen the sector progress from a nascent form through the early evolution of digital health, to the eventual involvement of pharma and insurance companies
The initial evolution saw the market flooded with health apps, and people not really knowing what to do with them. Healthcare professionals were inundated with a plethora of options, but without any way to work out which to choose. Questions like “How do I choose a solution? How do I know that they’re safe for my patient?” were rife.
This wasn’t just a problem for clinicians and healthcare organisations, but consumers too. With thousands of apps available, how do you choose the right one too, for example, track your diabetes?
When the term DTx was coined a few years ago, a whole framework appeared around it. This provided an answer to these issues, by providing a reference that could give more confidence to the healthcare professionals and the consumers of a solution, that it was safe.
Providing a structure around DTX gives it a regulatory and legal framework. As Noizet says: “Healthcare is a very delicate sector, you’ve got the life of your patient in your hand. So you want to make sure that the solution that you would be using or you would recommend your patient to use is safe, that they won’t be harmed by the solution and that the data being shared is secured. For me, it’s absolutely the key”.
What is the role that you see for SaMD and DTx in thinking beyond the pill?
During her time at Bayer in Berlin, Noizet witnessed a change in the mentality of the pharma companies; a definitive shift from looking for just a treatment to a more holistic solution.
Pharma has begun to move from the traditional method of providing pills to ensuring patients are more compliant – helping them take their medication, and understanding why this wasn’t happening.
It’s not just compliance that benefits – Noizet notes that DTx can “give the healthcare professionals, or the pharma company, thinking about clinical trials more insight into the life of the patients, and a better understanding of the patient’s environment to understand their triggers”. This provides invaluable data, collected regularly, on treatments, and how best to personalise them for the individual. These are the areas in which DTx can provide a real, measurable, difference.
The data point is of particular importance in pharma, an industry that traditionally has been apprehensive about collecting data due to privacy concerns.
What does this new world of data-rich DTx do to the relationship between healthcare professionals and patients?
For Noizet, this fundamentally changes the relationship:
“I would say that it actually changes the relationship between the healthcare professional and the patient; it strengthens it. If you think about the DTx, they’re collecting a lot of information about the patient, and that gives healthcare professionals another view of the patient over a period of time”.
The ability to collect data in-between visits, rather than just during appointments, is hugely advantageous. Because the data is already logged, it helps the healthcare professional to make better decisions regarding diagnostic and treatment options, patients have more quality time with the healthcare professional, and their data is ideally integrated into the system.
How can we improve the adoption of DTx?
It’s all well and good DTx improving outcomes and saving time, but without adoption, it will remain stuck. Fortunately, Noizet is currently working on a research project around this.
According to their initial research, nearly 50% of clinicians prescribe or recommend apps.
But there remains a classic healthcare sticking point – time. If clinicians had more time to understand the apps available, this percentage could be increased.
There’s also an issue around education. “This came up in conversations with doctors as well, in my community here. Yes, they don’t have time, but they also need to understand how the solutions are working. And I think many times you’re afraid of something that you don’t know. And they say, ‘Yeah, but what’s the goal of the solution? How are they working? How are they helping me? How are they helping my patients?’
Crossing this educational boundary is crucial to increased DTx adoption for Noizet.
What type of digital solution do you predict will be the biggest driver of widespread personalized care?
For Noizet, it will likely be one of mental health and chronic disease management.
During the pandemic, telemedicine was the big winner, but DTx solutions were close behind due to their remote capabilities. “We all ended up being at home, logged on at home without being able to leave the house, without being able to access the healthcare system. So there were many people, chronic patients, or people with mental health conditions that needed regular support, that were left alone. They didn’t have access to healthcare professionals, or they didn’t have that support anymore. And I think many people realized the importance of having that support at any time. That’s where a digital solution can really help, if you think about DTx they’re available 24/7 from anywhere”