Episode #61 – Digital Health Therapeutics with Anand Iyer

William Gibson, the noted science fiction author wrote, “the future is already here, it’s just not widely distributed yet.”  Our guest this week describes a future revolution in healthcare that is, in fact, already here.  Digital health therapeutics are transforming the delivery and experience of medical care and rapidly gaining traction in healthcare delivery.

Anand Iyer, the Chief Strategy Officer for Welldoc, has been engaged in digital health for well over a decade.  He is a respected global digital health leader.  Anand has a doctorate in computer and electrical engineering as well as a MBA from Carnegie Mellon.  Anand and his colleagues are part of a large and growing community of cutting-edge digital entrepreneurs that are building the technologic infrastructure and capabilities to enable a completely different approach to medical care.

In this interview, Anand describes the digital therapeutics that are being used to provide clinical care to patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.  To date, Welldoc’s FDA approved digital therapeutic, Blue Star, has been used by tens of thousands of healthcare consumers with diabetes.

In addition, in this episode Anand shares the following:

  • How digital health software and algorithms are becoming FDA-approved and regulated therapeutics, similar to medications and medical devices.
  • The three main facets of the Blue Star digital health program – targeted at patients, providers and health systems.
  • The requirements for the acceptance and adoption of digital health into mainstream clinical delivery.
  • Why digital health is the only viable option in addressing numerous chronic diseases that are advancing at epidemic proportion.
  • Why digital health presents a great solution to some of the challenges in providing optimal care to the Medicaid population – addressing some of the existing inequities in quality, accessibility, affordability and engagement.
  • How different digital health platforms are beginning to coalesce, affording users a singular, non-fragmented, seamless experience.

It is remarkable that Anand and his colleagues understood this potential well over a decade ago – the use of digital apps to treat diabetes, hypertension, depression, heart failure and numerous other chronic diseases.  Given their forethought, Anand asks us to imagine what digital technology and advanced analytics will be able to accomplish in the next 5 years. The use of: 24/7 real-time biometric recording and psychosocial/consumer information; coupled with machine learning, artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, voice technologies, natural language processing and avatars; plus new coordinating & integrating operating platforms – will enable unimagined advances in medical care.  

Three closing thoughts:

  1. The take-home point is that digital health will almost certainly be a profound (and perhaps unprecedented) enabler in making high-quality healthcare accessible, affordable and sustainable – for everyone.
  2. Digital health will also be a major enabler in engaging healthcare consumers, finally breaking the quality & outcomes barrier we’ve been unable to penetrate over the past couple of decades.
  3. Although digital technology is going to be a game-changing enabler, our purpose should not be to digitize healthcare, but to humanize it.

As always, I am very interested in hearing your thoughts about this exciting domain of creating a new healthcare.

This will be one of a number of upcoming interviews focused on digital health.

Until next time, be well!