As shown in Figure 1, the digital health landscape spans from “education and search” tools, like GoodRx and ZocDoc, that address the basic health care information-based needs of consumers to “well-being and fitness” apps and “telehealth and remote monitoring” offerings. On the far end of the spectrum, we see DTx solutions emerging to provide more expansive, clinically proven solutions for targeted conditions and therapy areas.
These DTx solutions are the next evolution on the digital health continuum to improve care coordination. In this category are companies like Click Therapeutics, which recently partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim to develop and commercialize CT- 155, a prescription digital therapeutic to aid in the treatment of schizophrenia.⁴ Another example is Propeller Health, which provides a sensor that attaches to medication inhalers and tracks data through an integrated mobile app for patients with asthma or COPD.⁵
Voluntis is pursuing a business model to provide branded and “white-label” DTx development and commercialization solutions with biopharma and medtech companies.⁶ Across these alternative DTx approaches, the necessary clinical focus requires new levels of ecosystem- based thinking. Unlike other digital health solutions, these DTx offerings require US FDA or similar regulatory agency approval in other countries based on clinical trials to demonstrate safety and efficacy. As a result, this increased investment of time and capital in product development creates more business risk and significantly higher pressure on the marketing and commercial sales teams to accelerate successful go-to-market strategies for DTx launch, scale-up and growth.
Many organizations pursuing DTx solutions, from digital health startups to biopharma companies, have struggled to gain awareness, adoption and engagement following launch due to their narrow focus on a small group of stakeholders. In fact, the nature of DTx business models tends to require a deeper focus on specific clinical conditions to gain regulatory approval.
However, delivering a compelling end-to-end user experience and end-user adoption requires a more systematic understanding of the value exchanges with a broader ecosystem of stakeholders. It is this broader DTx ecosystem that impacts product-market fit and improves the desirability, feasibility and viability of the DTx solution. Many organizations fail to consider unmet needs of stakeholders across this broader DTx ecosystem and fail to conduct early in-market experimentation to validate and refine critical business model assumptions prior to launch.
More importantly, however, the go-to-market strategy for these DTx solutions needs to consider a broader set of ecosystem stakeholders for successful market entry. If it does not, these DTx solutions launch into a sea of digital health alternatives targeting the same stakeholders with a similar value proposition. Without a strategic rudder to guide market entry, DTx solutions lose valuable time and unnecessarily burn cash attempting to build awareness and differentiate their solution. In many ways, defining a robust go-to-market strategy is just as important as product development and clinical trials for DTx business model success.