Over the past decade or so, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) has become integrated into our lives in many forms, from shopping recommendations to predictive text, supporting more automated and personalized interactions at every turn. Increased use of AI has also helped to speed up many everyday processes by guessing future behavior based on past data, and more recently, we have seen these advances begin to change healthcare as well.
The use of AI in healthcare has opened a new world of possibilities and continues to evolve in terms of its capabilities, scope, and scale. For the digital therapeutics industry specifically, where nearly 200 new apps are launched every day, AI plays a significant role in driving personalization and engagement to help patients achieve better health.
With something as nuanced and precise as digital health, there is no one-size-fits all solution. However, AI has presented healthcare organizations with the opportunity to learn more about each patient as an individual, in order to provide more personalized support, better address a patient’s specific issues, and remove barriers throughout their treatment journey.
For example, in conjunction with medication management, AI can identify patterns in missed doses or delays for certain demographics or complex medications. This can help pharma companies, physicians, and digital platforms tailor interventions for patients most at risk for non-adherence, increase virtual support resources, schedule check-in calls from physicians, or apply more frequent reminders via SMS messaging.
AI-enabled digital therapeutics have helped give new meaning to the term personalized medicine by tailoring not just the treatment itself, but the way that treatment is managed to the individual characteristics of each patient.
With adverse drug events leading to nearly 700,000 emergency room visits each year, proactivity in digital health tools are critical. Using predictive analytics capabilities of AI, advanced digital health platforms can intervene faster and more efficiently to prevent unnecessary emergent care — a benefit for patients, payers, and already overwhelmed hospitals.
The use of predictive analytics within AI can transform aggregate patient data into a powerful modeling tool. Every piece of data shared by a patient helps to improve the predictive powers of the AI, to better anticipate a patient’s potential needs and challenges based on their various characteristics — whether that is their age, gender, or number and types of medications.
From there, digital tools can provide different forms of motivation and support depending on the individual patient. For example, if a patient frequently has issues with taking their medication at the correct time, digital therapeutics tools can provide alerts and notifications to encourage them to adhere to their medication correctly. Or, if the underlying condition/consequences of medication mismanagement are serious enough, enable them to automatically share their information with a caregiver or physician as a safety net.
As more physician offices shift to cloud-based services and make patient records more accessible via digital, connecting patients to their own health information is easier than ever. With AI-enabled digital therapeutics, access to personal health data is placed directly into the hands of patients. This not only expands the healthcare setting beyond the four walls of a medical office, but puts patients in the driver’s seat.
Through this technology, patients easily get support resources or interact with providers on their own terms through telehealth connectivity. Digital therapeutics also offer health education and insight into care plans that lead to more self-responsibility. Finally, technology can also greatly reduce the isolation often felt when managing a medical condition by providing a 24/7 connection.
By giving patients the ability to participate in their care more actively through notes and updates on their health status, it also makes it easier for care teams to support them. Patient reported data helps clinicians better understand how their priorities, challenges, and environment all contribute to overall health.
What the future holds for AI and digital therapeutics
Compared to other industries, healthcare has been slower to adopt AI technologies, and for good reason. Healthcare is incredibly personal and requires human connection to build rapport and trust. While digital solutions will never fully replace the vital role of human connection in patient care, they can provide support and amplify the care provided through traditional medical visits. Combining digital therapeutics with human services can increase efficiencies, reduce fears, and provide a lifeline to patients throughout their journey.
Understanding how people communicate, receive information, and make decisions is central to creating a tailored digital health experience. This is where AI truly shines and works in two directions — by helping to intake information about patients and learn about their unique needs, and then customize the way support is delivered to them through personalized technology. AI is making digital therapeutic tools more than a helpful solution, but an essential component in patient care.
Through a deeper understanding of patient actions and greater refinement of its processes, AI-powered digital therapeutics can help us deploy specific support strategies for each patient to navigate toward healthier outcomes. In the very near term, we are likely to see AI working to employ personalized health strategies that are informed by population data, rooted in a holistic approach that meets patients where they are, and moves them toward better health. The future of even better, more personalized health support is likely just around the corner.