The Growing Role of Digital Therapeutics

Non-pharmaceutical options to support client goals and plan member outcomes
COMMENTARY
June 20, 2019
Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health

Digital and non-digital health and wellness solutions are rapidly becoming an integral part of how we treat a wide range of conditions as well as helping patients live their best lives. This is true both for conditions that have historically been treated with pharmaceutical therapies and those that don’t require medication.

We want the treatment that’s best for the patient, whether it is medication or interacting with an app on their phone.

While many consider the role of a pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) like CVS Caremark to be that of managing medication therapy, that role is rapidly evolving — and it makes sense for it to do so. We want the treatment that’s best for the patient, whether it is medication or interacting with an app on their phone. Digital therapeutics is emerging as a viable option to treat many conditions. They are a reasonable alternative to medication therapy.

Our recent roll-out of vendor benefit management (VBM), a new service that enables payors to easily onboard and manage third-party vendors that provide such digital and non-digital health and wellness solutions, demonstrates our commitment to support our clients in offering these solutions.

The first solution available through the service, Sleepio, by Big Health, is a great example of where treating a condition with non-pharmaceutical means may be the better option. As a physician, I believe that long-term medication treatment is not a great option for insomnia. These medications are not meant for use over an extended period, they can be addictive, and their efficacy diminishes over time. For conditions like insomnia — or just poor sleep — digital therapeutics can be a superior option.

Digital therapeutics are a reasonable alternative to medication therapy.
Digital therapeutics are a reasonable alternative to medication therapy.

What makes it even more powerful for us to be involved in this space is the information, clinical expertise, and breadth of capabilities we already have. Based on our database of patient information and advanced analytics, we already know a lot about members, including what medications they are currently taking. We can integrate that information with that available through digital therapeutic apps, wearable devices and other sources, and develop a holistic treatment approach for members for common and highly prevalent issues such as chronic conditions.

Over time, we can also analyze what kinds of patients are more likely to use such alternative solutions, patterns of usage, and how successful such solutions are for them. This enables us to not only parse who — the profile of the kind of person — these solutions are ideal for and how to best target such interventions. We could then combine that with our care management capabilities, support from our staff at CVS Pharmacy, the trained clinicians at MinuteClinic, and the range of services offered through our new HealthHUB locations, to provide the best support for each individual patient.

As little as a decade or so ago, it was hard to imagine that all of us would be spending so much time with our electronic devices and that they would be able to do so much, and the proliferation in alternative health and wellness solutions. This has great promise, and what we see now is likely also only the tip of the iceberg.

Want to learn more about our vendor benefit management services? Ask Us
COMMENTARY
June 20, 2019
Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health

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