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January 14, 2022

Sprint: Best Routes to Market for DTx in the US

Commentary
HealthXL Team & HealthXL Community

The HealthXL Sprint 2-part meeting series connects senior leaders across our community to solve the latest health challenges. In our most recent sprint we discussed the best routes to market for DTx products in the US with a focus on payer, employer, D2C and pharma routes. In this blog we’ve pulled out the top 5 takeaways from this series. 


Experts included:  Brendan Staunton (Co-Founder and CEO at Amara Therapeutics), Eugene Borukhovich (Co-Founder & COO at YourCoach.Health), Hannes Klöpper (CEO at HelloBetter), Ivan Jurisic (Business Analyst for DTx at Roche), Kathleen Wright (Founder at Second Brain Healthcare), Kyloon Chuah (Co-Founder & CEO at Veriteos), Marina Simonian (VP, Product Management at ChronWell), Stephen Egan (Director at RediCare), Vasyl Pyrozhyk (Healthcare Banking at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation)


*All opinions are participants’ own and do not reflect the stance of their respective employers.



5 Key Recommendations: 


Decisions on DTx market strategy need to be made early on. Many existing players in the market have used a trial and error approach or have consciously chosen to generate revenue in one area while eyeing another in the long term. While this approach can be successful, changing your market strategy may also have an impact on brand perception. Starting D2C creates the benefit of collecting RWE and generating revenue, however the ability to make treatment claims is important to product development and brand perception. Re-engineering a digital health solution into a DTx can also be challenging and lead to questions of who you are as a company and what you actually do.   


Define product-market fit fast. Early interactions around your product can help gather feedback and gauge customer interest in the solution. The ability to iterate fast and develop a solution can be critical to a company's USP. The pace of pharma may not be compatible with fast iteration. 


Design your organization to your aspirations and be wary of partnering with pharma too early. Pharma companies will be looking for solutions that fit into their models and marketing strategies. Partnering with pharma too early may lead you to architect your solution into what pharma wants, but this may be a deviation from the true potential or value of your solution. 


Consider the halo of the FDA effect. While having clinical evidence up front can help to convince providers and payers, it’s also needed for the FDA stamp of approval. But is this expensive check-box really needed to be successful? Solutions that opt for RWE over trials plan to use this evidence to demonstrate clinical and financial value to payers. 


To partner with employers, find employees that fit your target population. Employers look for solutions that would benefit the greatest number of their employees. Niche products that may only be relevant for a few employees aren’t as likely to be successful via this route. Medium and small employers are often highly regional and prefer local solutions. 



Future Gazing: 


Insurance Companies and PBMs (Pharmacy Benefit Managers) are well positioned to be at the center of this ecosystem. PBMs have distribution power and can train pharmacists to counsel the end user. Evernorth is an example of this and there is a trend of companies being vertically integrated. In the future insurance companies and PBMs may begin to position themselves as providers. 


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