Keeping up with digital meds: 'Technology evolves much faster than a small molecule,' says exec

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/ClaudioVentrella)
(Image: Getty/ClaudioVentrella)
Combining mobile and web technologies with pharmaceutical medicines can drive “meaningful clinical impact,” says Canary Health CEO.

Digital medicines are transforming the pharmaceutical world, Canary Health CEO Adam Kaufman told us: What sets digital medicine apart from just about any technology, is its commitment to outcomes.”

Canary Health works with pharmaceutical companies to apply its coaching and conditional management approach – the Better Choices Better Health programme – to certain therapies. “In doing so, we create a comprehensive and engaging Drug+ or Device+ service that improves outcomes and supports value-based contracts,” ​said Kaufman.

In the lead up to his talk at BIO International Convention next week in Boston, US, we spoke with Adam Kaufman (AK) to discuss all things digital medicine – which he described as “the rigorous application of mobile and web technologies to drive meaningful clinical impact” ​– and how this technology is influencing the pharmaceutical sector. 

Q. How is digital medicine transforming pharma?

AK: ​Digital medicines are changing the pharmaceutical world in two key ways. Firstly, for many indications – particularly those where we lack effective pharmaceuticals – digital medicines are becoming the standard in care and first-line therapeutics. Mental health indications such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and insomnia are two such areas that can be targeting with digital medicines.

Secondly, Drug+ models that couple pharmaceuticals and digital medicines/therapeutics are driving even better outcomes. This is an exciting space and we are seeing a lot of interest from big companies in this approach.

Q. And in clinical trials?

AK: ​Digital medicines are also positively influencing clinical trials, from both the patient and contract research organization (CRO)/sponsor perspective. The technology can help provide real-world data, that can then be tracked and analysed against relevant outcomes, as well as help facilitate site-less trials.

In addition, digital medicines are considered ‘patient-centric.’ The therapeutic effect is driven by interactions with the consumer, offering a superior trial experience. Both the patient, and how digital medicines can work in a post-trial, real-life situation, are considered throughout the entire programme.

Q. What more can be done to facilitate the widespread adoption of digital medicines?

AK: ​I think there are two primary hurdles: reimbursement and innovation. While there is growing recognition for the incredible power of digital medicines, and consequently enhanced financial support, more development in the pay-scheme space is required.

A second, more subtle challenge, concerns the pace of innovation and approach to outcomes management. Technology evolves much faster than a small molecule, and we need to be prepared for that. I remember studying a digital medicine in 2005/2006. By the time we had completed the study, the version of internet browser we were using had become obsolete! We need to collectively evolve and adjust for inevitable changes in technology, and be aware of what impact these technologies will have on research programmes.

Q. How is Canary Health contributing to digital medicine development?

AK: ​We are leaders in a digital medicine subset – the Drug+ and Medical Device+ category – looking to improve condition management by promoting patient-self management. Our approach leverages decades of research from Stanford University that looks at how implement self-management. This helps people take control of their health journey and leads to improved adherence, better lifestyle behaviours and demonstrated improvements to chronic condition outcomes, such as arthritis and heart disease.

CEO Adam Kaufman co-founded Canary Health three years ago. The engineer and data scientist previously managed the Healthcare Services sector of dLife, and currently chairs Mental Health America, Los Angeles.

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