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The Digital Therapeutics Market Is Redefining Psychedelic Research And Patient Care

February 24, 2021 8:02 am
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The following article is sponsored by Mind Cure. The information contained in this article in no way represents investment advice or opinion on the part of Benzinga or its writers and is intended for informational purposes only.

Digital therapeutics (DTx) are a form of patient care that are gaining momentum in the medical industry and the effects of the pandemic have only accelerated this growth. 

In 2019, Insider Intelligence projected that the digital therapeutics industry would reach a market value of $9 billion by 2025. Although last year, their projections increased dramatically with the market value of DTx expected to hit nearly $56 billion in the next five years.

What was once met with skepticism has now become a necessity. In this past year, many people have struggled with their mental health as a result of the pandemic. Levels of anxiety and depression increased among many, yet access to in-person healthcare wasn’t as available. Due to this, the pandemic created a need for access to digital therapy through mobile technologies.

Digital therapeutics provides this solution as it delivers evidence-based, therapeutic services to patients through the medium of software programs, and mobile health apps. DTx platforms seem to be increasingly more important for psychedelic research, helping researchers find new evidence-based insights that could unlock crucial patient data needed to determine the efficacy of psychedelic treatments. 

And thanks to developing technologies and investments in the space, the adoption of digital therapeutics is becoming a reality.

Psychedelic Companies In The Digital Therapeutics Space

Multiple psychedelic and life science companies are moving into building out digital health platforms for mental health-related issues. These platforms are being designed to tackle areas such as cognitive behavioral therapy, crisis management, depression, pain, anxiety, addiction, and more.

One such company that is providing this form of therapeutic service is mental health and wellness company Mind Cure Health Inc (OTC:MCURF) (CSE:MCUR). 

Mind Cure recently announced that it’s moving into digital therapeutics as one of their five spheres with the development of the company’s digital therapeutic tool, iSTRYM. This new tool is an AI-driven mental health patient lifecycle platform to be designed for clinical trial assessments for monitoring psychedelic therapeutic research. The system is being designed to optimize the use of patient data to help support diagnoses and treatments. Mind Cure intends iSTRYM to be available to the broader therapist market in early 2022, which would allow therapists the same access for patient care as is found in research. 

“From onboarding patients to collecting critical insights across different protocols of the psychedelic research, iSTRYM could revolutionize the way we build communities around a common goal of mental wellness,” said Geoff Belair, CTO of Mind Cure in a recent press release.

The company recently signed an LOI to acquire an ownership interest in the Calgary, AB-based psychedelic treatment center ATMA. According to Mind Cure, ATMA is the first commercial psychedelic treatment center in Canada to announce psychedelic-assisted therapy for a patient with a section 56 exemption. This relationship unlocks multiple sites to gather patient data in psychedelic medicine, allowing it to provide better insights on patient treatments and outcomes. 

Biotech company ATAI Life Sciences also recently incorporated digital tools into its healthcare offering with the release of its new digital therapeutics company, IntroSpect Digital Therapeutics. This new company “will create digital tools to ‘magnify’ the effects of ATAI's portfolio drugs,” said David Keene, CEO of Introspect.

The company’s digital tools could help cut down the amount of time it takes to achieve therapeutic impact through an improved understanding of patient response to different treatments.

In addition to the increased adoption of digital therapeutics, some digital healthcare companies have received significant funding for their DTx technologies. One of which is healthcare technology company Mindstrong that raised $100 million in Series C fundraising in May 2020.

The Regulatory Landscape 

While the digital therapeutics space has undergone a lot of development and growth over the past couple of years, there are still regulatory hurdles that the industry faces.

The FDA has been a key driving force behind the DTx industry. In April 2020, the FDA created the Digital Health Software Precertification Program to cut down lengthy approval processes for software-based medical devices.

Last year, the FDA cleared a device designed to help aid patients who suffer from PTSD-induced nightmares. The device utilizes an Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) Watch and iPhone to monitor your heart rate and motion while you sleep. When the device detects that the patient may be experiencing a nightmare, it will send out vibrations using the Apple Watch.

Another device that received Breakthrough Designation and is authorized by the FDA is an 84-day prescription for opioid use disorder which uses cognitive behavioral therapy to help patients struggling with addiction.

But despite FDA approvals, the DTx market still requires physician approval and increased engagement from insurance providers. Currently, insurers have been slow to cover digital therapeutic programs. Although, the growing demand for digital therapeutics bodes well for both. And as more patients demand digital therapeutics as a form of treatment, insurance companies could look to reshape an out-of-date regulatory framework to help meet the increasing demand.

Conclusion

DTx is disrupting the healthcare industry and is now being developed specifically for mental health. And by doing so, it has reshaped our understanding of healthcare delivery and what it means to provide care. Stakeholders, providers, and payers are now forced to reevaluate their approaches to make room for DTx as the demand for digital care and the demand for gathering patient insights continues. 

While there are hurdles the industry faces, it is evident that DTx players will continue to push forward. There are still many people whose need for mental health treatment is still unmet. In 2017-2018, 60% of young people who suffered from depression did not receive mental health treatment. And even in areas with the greatest access, over 38% were not receiving proper care.

The digital therapeutics market presents a possible solution to this issue and will hopefully make mental health care more accessible as well as redefine disease prevention, management, and treatment.