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April 2, 2021

How HealthXL Interactive defined the future of digital health

Kate O'Reilly

Last week HealthXL hosted version 2.0 of its bi-annual Interactive event, bringing together over 120 senior leaders from across the digital health industry to virtually zoom in on some of the biggest challenges facing the industry. The day kicked off with a lively fireside chat with Astrazeneca’s Chief Commercial Digital Officer Karan Arora followed by roundtable discussions centered on trends in the HealthXL Therapeutic (DTx) and Clinical Trial innovation HealthXL communities. Has digital made clinical trials cheaper and faster? Has digital enabled decentralized trials at scale? What are the most successful routes to market for DTx?

We joined the catalysts of this industry to explore the current climate, and the future of innovation in trials. Read on to find out what they said..!

3 things we learned:

Fireside chat with Karan Arora, Commercial Digital Officer, AstraZeneca

The event kicked off with a fireside chat with Karan Arora, who discussed his career journey through various healthcare roles and how they led him to his current position as Commercial Digital Officer (CCDO) at AstraZeneca. Karan started off with a discussion on how he’s been driving innovation with a large pharmaceutical company, how to set up strong digital functions, measure robust KPIs and integrate digital into the core strategic functions of the business. He also shed light on some of the struggles pharma has had in digital health including the integration of CDO roles into the business and the focus of pharma on transformation as opposed to evolution. Karan also emphasised that what digital really means and boils down to for him and AstraZeneca is “being customer centric and data driven”. Karan tapped on the challenges associated with platforms and accentuated the importance of ensuring they are built on clinical and evidence outcomes, integrate into  clinical workflows , and partner with health systems to ensure their success. He also touched on the value that RWD has in driving adoption and identified that KPIs that truly matter to pharma companies matter include how many patients are persisting with digital solutions and the time taken from implementation to an achieved clinical outcome.

Watch the fireside discussion on the HealthXL platform now: Click here.

DTx Community


Follow the money: D2C?

Business models were a hot topic across the DTx communities. One of the main takeaways from the DTx community was that the D2C route has shown most success and promise in the digital health market and while it is a route that pharma wants to explore, pharma does not necessarily know how to implement it.  For DTx companies developing OTC products, participants discussed the importance of validating and researching user experience and argued that DTx companies should look to other successful technology companies such as Netflix to see how great user experience sells itself to consumers. In line with this, most participants were in agreement that the adoption of DTx will happen via the D2C route rather than via HCP adoption. However, there will still be a need for clinical and economic evidence to pull the HCP's and Insurers into the game.

Value proposition first

Another point that was raised was that while good clinical evidence is key for success in HCP adoption of DTx,  it is not relevant for every single product to conduct RCTs. As a result DTx companies should evaluate what level of rigor is required for their individual products on a case-by-case basis. Finally, the role of payers was tapped into. The DTx communities also highlighted that a lot of payers are hesitant to partner because they are unclear of the value it brings to them. To address this challenge, it was suggested that DTx companies develop a clear value proposition that adds value to the payer directly. On the partnership front, the community agreed that current pharma-DTx collaborations are perceived as mostly negative for both parties. Only through the success of these collaborations will business models in this space be established.

Thank you to our anchors for the DTx Community Roundtable conversations:  Prayat Shah from Wellthy Therapeutics, Maurice Solomon from ZS,Eugene Burokhovich from YCH, Jeremy Sohn from Novartis, Aahuti Rai from Ampersand Health, Kal Patel from Brightinsight and Shrawan Patel from Strategy Health. 

Clinical Trials innovation

Decentralized Clinical Trials:

One of the main takeaways from the Clinical Trial communities was that while Decentralized Clinical Trials offer a myriad of advantages (larger participants pools, participants' diversity, saving time, etc), they may not be the best approach in all cases and there is a need to establish some criteria to determine when Decentralized Clinical Trials are suitable. Furthermore, a lot of work is still to be done in terms of regulating such trials, and conversations between the tech vendors and pharma companies involved will be crucial in shaping standard practice. 

The overarching message reiterated by the CT community was that patient centricity is key and patient experiences should shape the structure of clinical trials in the future

Digital Endpoints and Measures:

In terms of digital biomarkers the majority of participants agreed that digital biomarkers offer many advantages in terms of the volume and frequency of data which can be collected and this helps overcome the limited data that clinical visits offer today.  However, they also agreed that the primary barrier to their uptake is that they are still in the exploratory phase and there is no established gold standard. Another limiting factor is that currently baseline data is collected far too late from digital biomarkers being based only on episodic observations, and their success will only follow the establishment of baseline data.

Thank you to our anchors for the Clinical Trials Community roundtable discussions  Craig Lipset from Clinical Innovation Partners, Jim Joyce from HealthBeacon and Arnab Roy from ZS.


Working group: spotlight on dermatology

The day wrapped up with anchors from our ongoing Future of Skin Health working group (Francesca Wuttke from Almirall, Robert Garber from 7 Wire Ventures, Steve Seuntjens from PHS Fund) presenting some of their findings from conversations with patients, HCPs and innovators with or working with psoriasis, eczema.  One of the key takeaways from the discussion was the narrow focus of skin treatment and management which typically leaves patients battling  comorbidities by themselves. Remote Patient Monitoring and HCP and patient education were identified as some of the digital solutions with greatest potential in the dermatology space. 


HealthXL Interactive is just the first step of joining 1000+ peers in their digital health journey. If you were unable to get your seat at Interactive this time be sure to sign up to our mailing list or one of our many exclusive meetings in the coming weeks!.

HealthXL would like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors once more for this event: Ampersand Health, Wellthy Therapeutics and ZS.

If Digital Health is your passion, make HealthXL your community. Join our Community today for free: Click here

We can provide an introduction on your behalf so that you can contact them directly with any questions/queries on this topic. Simply click on the link below to request an introduction.

We can provide an introduction on your behalf so that you can contact them directly with any questions/queries on this topic. Simply click on the link below to request an introduction.

Request an Introduction

We can provide an introduction on your behalf so that you can contact them directly with any questions/queries on this topic. Simply click on the link below to request an introduction.

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HealthXL Digital Health Meetings

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Join our Digital Health Meetings and take a deep dive for 75 minutes into topics like digital therapeutics, patient support, telehealth, clinical trials, dermatology and many more. These Meetings are not regular webinars: No audience, no recording and no hiding behind a screen. You actively participate in a discussion to solve your present challenges and design the future of digital health. And with a free account on our Community Hub, you stay connected and up-to-date on the latest news and insights, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the topic before, during and after.

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