“We are on the verge of a digital revolution across every aspect of the healthcare sector, from the lab bench to the patient’s bedside”
— Vas Narasimhan
Software-as-a-drug describes the evolution of evidence-based therapeutic interventions for patients by means of a software programme with the aim of preventing, managing or treating medical conditions or diseases. Software-as-a-drug applications have been clinically validated, are governed by stricter regulations and are often only available on prescription from a medical specialist.
Application & benefits
Software-as-a-drug is mostly applied to accomplish change in behaviour or lifestyle. Treatment is often based on evidence-based psychological or behavioural interventions such as cognitive behavioural therapy . Currently, software-as-a-drug applications are mostly used to treat psychiatric conditions such as drug addiction and insomnia [2-4]. But all afflictions affected by behaviour and/or lifestyle can, in principle, be treated with software-as-a-drug [5-7]. Software-as-a-drug can be applied as standalone treatment to replace or supplement regular healthcare . The technology can increase therapy compliance thus improving the effectiveness of regular treatment .
The software-as-a-drug movement is part of the larger group of Digital Therapeutics. The market value of Digital Therapeutics is expected to grow from $4.4 billion in 2021 to $19.1 billion in 2028 .
Increased awareness and growing acceptance
Increasing pressure on the healthcare system
Growing connectivity and improved data infrastructure
Limiting guidelines, legislation and regulations
Lack of awareness and reluctance among potential users
Limited digital skills
Software-as-a-drug still has a lot to gain in terms of insurance coverage and inclusion in treatment guidelines. In addition, a lot of lack of awareness and reluctance remains in the medical world. But acceptance is growing in part due to the increasing evidence, the potential to unburden the healthcare system and stimulating policy developments .
The development and use of software-as-a-drug applications is on the rise. Software-as-a-drug offers the ability to improve the effectiveness of existing treatments in a cost-effective way. In addition, the scalability and accessibility of software-as-a-drug allow for evidence-based, non-pharmacological treatments to be made available to millions of people. Software-as-a-drug supports the evolution towards an empowered patient.
- Westhues, K., Exploring the potential of digital therapeutics, 2018 [Available at: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/pharmaceuticals-and-medical-products/our-insights/exploring-the-potential-of-digital-therapeutics]
- Makin, S., The emerging world of digital therapeutics, 2019 [Available at: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02873-1]
- Somryst, Introducing Somryst, 2020 [Available at: https://somryst.com/]
- Pear Therapeutics, reSET® & reSET-O®, 2020 [Available at: https://peartherapeutics.com/products/reset-reset-o/]
- Pear Therapeutics, Pear Therapeutics, Product Pipeline, 2020 [Available at: https://peartherapeutics.com/science/product-pipeline/
- Sanofi, Sanofi and Happify Health solidify collaboration around prescription DTx designed to address mental health in people with MS, 2019 [Available at: https://www.sanofi.com/en/media-room/articles/2019/happify-collaboration
- Otsuka, Otsuka and Click Therapeutics Collaborate to Develop and Commercialize Digital Therapeutics for Patients with Major Depressive Disorder, 2019 [Available at: https://www.otsuka-us.com/discover/otsuka-and-click-therapeutics-collaborate]
- Grand View Research, Digital Therapeutics Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Application (Diabetes, Obesity, CVD, CNS Disease, Respiratory Diseases, Smoking Cessation), By End-use (Patients, Providers, Payers, Employers), And Segment Forecasts, 2021 – 2028, 2021 [Available from https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/digital-therapeutics-market]
- IQVIA Institute, Digital Health Trends 2021, 2021 [Available from https://www.iqvia.com/insights/the-iqvia-institute/reports/digital-health-trends-2021]