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July 28, 2023

Tess’ Top Takes from this Month’s Meetings in Digital Health: July 2023

Tessy Huss

It's been another month of great events at HealthXL, with topics ranging from ‘How cultural differences affect uptake of digital mental health’ to ‘The DTx reimbursement pathway in France’. We had our advisory board from the oncology community share their insights into the future of oncology care, in this future-gazing webinar ‘What will cancer care look like in 2040’. 

To make sure you don't miss the top insights from our communities, here are my top five takeaways from HealthXL meetings in July:

1. Newly launched CancerX's aims to reduce financial toxicity for oncology patients

The high cost of cancer care, especially in the US, places a great economic burden on patients and their families. This “financial toxicity” negatively impacts patients’ quality of life and wellbeing; it can cause them to cut back on essentials such as food and utilities, suffer from increased stress levels, and in some cases, delay their medical care.

The newly launched CancerX initiative aims to achieve a 50% reduction in cancer deaths by 2047 and tackle financial toxicity for oncology patients in the US. CancerX is a public-private partnership announced by The White House as a national accelerator to drive cancer care innovation as part of the reignited Cancer Moonshot. 

CancerX's first evidence generation project tackles this financial toxicity challenge. While it will take time to fully address, even small changes can have significant reductions in total costs for patients. For example, a solution leading to a single-point decrease in the Patient Activation Measure (PAM) score can translate to a 2% reduction in total cost expenditure. (The PAM score is a really useful tool to assess impact on financial toxicity. More information can be found here and here.) The advent of CancerX is a decisive step towards confronting financial toxicity head-on and sets a precedence for the broader shift towards patient-centricity in oncology.

Read more about CancerX and how you can get involved in our meeting takeaways here

2. Pharma must adopt a tech-like mindset to preventing 'Paralysis by Analysis'

The consumerisation of healthcare has given rise to a new generation of patients, who are actively managing their own health. This has led to an increasing demand for seamless and personalised experiences, where digital connectivity is a necessity. Yet, meeting the demands of the consumers while ensuring safe and efficacious solutions is no easy task. 

In our recent session on ‘Patients as Consumers: Why Pharma Must Deliver a Convenient, Connected Patient Experience’, we explored the hurdles pharma encounters in keeping pace with evolving consumer demands and potential methods to provide truly patient-centric solutions.

A central theme emerged: the 'analysis paralysis' phenomenon. This refers to Pharma’s cautious approach, which involves excessively perfecting digital health solutions before launching. While this reduces risk, it contrasts starkly with the agile 'launch and iterate' mindset prevalent in the tech industry. Pharma would benefit from adopting a less risk-averse approach, and being open to rolling-out solutions that are safe, address an initial unmet need, and can be iterated in real-time, based on user feedback.

In the past, regulatory rigidity might have contributed to this 'analysis paralysis'. However, as regulatory bodies evolve their guidelines, there may be room for more iterative developments.

Embracing this tech-like mindset, pharma could accelerate the rollouts of digital health solutions, bridging the gap between their offerings and the needs of the connected patient.

In an era of patient-driven healthcare, adopting a more agile, tech-like approach to digital health solution development is no longer a nice-to-have but a necessity.

Explore more in-depth insights on developing solutions for the connected patient from our recent session here.

3. Integrating a combination of tech and human advancements into care pathways will revolutionise oncology in the next 10-15 years

The field of oncology is on the cusp of revolutionary change, powered by rapid advancements in technology. As healthcare moves towards a more personalised approach, the future of care delivery will be closely tied to technologies that enable medical professionals to interact with and treat patients in their own environments.

In our recent webinar on ‘What Will Cancer Care Look Like In 2040?’, we brought together experts from the HealthXL Digital Health in Oncology Advisory Board to explore the future of cancer care. Our panellists  panellists, Ethan Basch (Chief of Oncology, University of North Carolina), Andrew Norden (Chief Medical Officer, OncoHealth) and Lynda Chin (Founder and CEO, Apricity) explored key challenges and the potential transformative developments we can anticipate in the next 10-15 years. Our expert panel sees a future where the patient experience is greatly enhanced, thanks to a combination of technological and human advancements. Cancer patients could have immediate access to their care teams and necessary resources, with questions and concerns addressed promptly.

While the use of ePROs has proven to be beneficial in oncology care, its wide-scale implementation is a significant challenge. These systems frequently clash with existing clinical workflows and operations and necessitate a specialised workforce to address patient concerns during the implementation phase. The hurdle for ePRO technology in oncology, therefore, is less about innovation and more about implementation. Finding ways to seamlessly integrate these systems into existing workflows, without adding undue burdens on healthcare staff or patients, is a key step towards unlocking the full potential of ePROs in cancer care.

Although there are many challenges that need to be addressed, emerging innovative business models are a beacon of hope for the future of cancer care. Initiatives like the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)'s APC4 brings together oncology practices under a shared banner to foster the adoption of a wide range of advanced technologies. These technologies span from remote monitoring to patient navigation, and decentralised clinical trial technology.

Through continued investment and collaboration, we can anticipate a seismic shift in the cancer care landscape over the next decade. Dive deeper into this topic from our panel discussion ‘What Will Cancer Care Look Like In 2040?’ here.

4. eHealth Projects Director at the French Ministry of Health walked us through the new PECAN framework

This year, France established a pioneering, fast-track reimbursement pathway for digital devices — the PECAN program. France has drawn inspiration from Germany’s DiGA pathway and tested many different digital health reimbursement programmes to arrive at the PECAN pathway. This initiative offers temporary reimbursement for digital health solutions over a non-renewable one-year period, providing an opportunity for manufacturers to receive reimbursement while completing their clinical trial. The PECAN program opens a gateway for digital health solutions to reach over 60 million people in France.

In our latest masterclass, Aymeric Perchant, the eHealth Projects Director at the French Ministry of Health, shared comprehensive insights on the PECAN framework. 

So, which solutions are PECAN-compatible? Digital medical devices intended for therapeutic purposes or innovative medical remote monitoring solutions are eligible for PECAN. To qualify, these solutions must fulfil the following criteria:

Interested in the French reimbursement pathway?  Discover more in-depth insights, including the presentation deck here

5. Digital solutions must be tailored for cultural nuances to increase success rates 

Mental health can suffer great stigmatism. Perspectives towards care and support can vary based on demographics, cultures, and geographical locations; understanding these cultural nuances is essential for providing relevant care. 

Technology can break down some of the barriers and stigma surrounding mental health and increase inclusivity and care accessibility, particularly among underrepresented populations. Yet, this must be applied thoughtfully and appropriately to ensure we are reducing, rather than introducing, barriers. 

Our recent roundtable, ‘Adoption Of Digital Mental Health Solutions: How Cultural Differences Affect Uptake’, looked into the geographic and cultural factors impacting the adoption of digital mental health solutions. Renae Beaumont (Weill Cornell Medicine) and Myles Furnace (Closed Loop Medicine) led the conversation, focusing on strategies to ensure that technology remains culturally sensitive.

An interesting part of this discussion was focused on innovative and engaging methods of connecting with populations. An interesting example of a creative approach was showcased in a 2019 trial aimed at increasing participation among black male individuals with uncontrolled blood pressure. The trial site was moved to a location that these individuals were more comfortable with and likely to engage than unfamiliar sites — barbershops. This unique strategy resulted in not only higher participation rates but also greater reductions in blood pressure levels.

These examples highlight the importance of establishing local partnerships with community figures and key opinion leaders to maintain the cultural relevance and effectiveness of digital solutions.

Join the HXL community, where  members can rewatch our webinars, read the takeaways from virtual and in-person events, and more. 

These are just a few top takeaways from some of our discussions this month. Apply to attend an upcoming HealthXL Community event and get all the insights first hand. 

See you in a HealthXL meeting soon!

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.

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Ready to read more? HealthXL members can access the full peak of the report on the HealthXL Community Hub.

Digital Therapeutics (DTx)
Digital Therapeutics (DTx)
Digital Therapeutics (DTx)
Digital Therapeutics (DTx)

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Elena Ames
Data Privacy Officer, BrightInsight
Elena Ames
Elena Ames
Data Privacy Officer, BrightInsight

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