For the last several years, I’ve been arguing that digital health provides an important opportunity to improve drug development, for several reasons.
First, by providing greater insight into the patient’s actual experience of disease, these technologies can reveal important differentiating features of new therapeutics, or point out aspects of illness that new medicines ought to attack.
Second, by offering a richer readout of phenotype, digital health measurements can reveal important disease subgroups, perhaps defined by a unique underlying mechanism that can be targeted. I’ve discussed this in detail recently, and won’t focus on this again here.
Digital health technologies can of course be helpful in a range of other ways, such as improving adherence, population analytics, clinical decision support, etc.
While some have hailed the adoption of digital health by pharma, that’s not my impression, at least on the R&D side. In my view, it remains very much on the “innovation initiative” side of things, rather than a clear business need (like pharmacology); drug development companies may be dipping their toes in and celebrating their bravery, but at best they are interested – certainly not what I’d call “pig committed.”