Pilot projects: Digital therapeutic experiments
Health apps are already being used as part of medical treatment in several countries. Producers and organisers of health services are experimenting with using digital therapeutics as part of practical care. Sitra’s projects on this were started in spring 2022.
What is it about?
Digital health applications are already being used in several countries as part of medical treatment. They are being used in treating, managing and preventing diseases.
Digital therapeutics refer to medical evidence-based digital care methods, used to treat or prevent diseases. They are offered directly to patients to support their treatment and rehabilitation and patients play an active role in their use. The methods must be proven to be safe and medically effective.
Digital therapeutics can be stand-alone treatments for conditions such as depression, or they can be used in combination with medical treatment, such as for cancer. Digital therapeutics are not conventional well-being applications, but are clinically proven care methods intended for the treatment of a specific disease or syndrome. For more information, see the website of the Digital Therapeutics Alliance (PDF).
Sitra is funding a project in which the producers and organisers of health services experiment with the practical use of digital therapeutics. The aim is to find new digital therapeutics to use in everyday healthcare.
The experiences and lessons learned from the pilots can be used widely in Finland when introducing digital therapeutics.
There are six ongoing projects, focused on various different diseases or syndromes. The results will be published in summer 2023, when the projects will be completed.
Better functional capacity for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients
Fatigue is a common symptom affecting the functional capacity and quality of life of MS patients. The pilot project will study the use of digital therapy for the self-management of fatigue among MS patients. The digital therapy is based on activity planning, where patients use a mobile application to learn to assess the factors that affect their coping and thus better deal with their symptoms. The aim is to strengthen patients’ experience of managing their own coping, facilitate communication between patients and healthcare professionals and optimise the overall treatment of multiple sclerosis.
Project implemented by: Oulu University Hospital, Mervi Ryytty
Digital therapy: More Stamina
Digital therapy for adult asthma with the Kamu application
Asthma is a common condition that affects about 10 per cent of the population. The clinical presentation and severity of asthma varies due to innate and external factors. The pilot project aims to identify asthma-specific symptom cycles through the use of electronically measured exhalation values and analytics. The pilot project will assess the experience of asthma patients and their caregivers with a remote monitoring treatment model, patient commitment to digital therapy and asthma treatment balance during digital therapy.
Project implemented by: Medzilla Oy (in Finnish), Annette Kainu
Digital therapy: Kamu Health
Digital treatment of cancer patients throughout the service system
Cancer treatment is often very expensive. Better targeting of treatment can lead to significant cost savings. This pilot project will introduce a digital therapy to guide and advise patients and healthcare professionals throughout the treatment path (including surgery, pharmaceutical and radiotherapy, follow-up and symptomatic treatment). At the same time, a digitally enabled approach will be created that uses data actively generated by patients to develop a safer and less expensive treatment solution. The aim is to improve the effectiveness of care and reduce treatment costs.
Project implemented by: Siun Sote (Joint municipal authority for North Karelia social and health services), Heli Aalto
Digital therapy: Kaiku Health
Improving the treatment balance of patients taking anticoagulants in primary care
The aim of anticoagulant medication (warfarin) is to prevent the normal clotting of a patient’s blood. Finding the appropriate therapeutic balance is often difficult. In the most severe cases, this can lead to stroke or even death. The pilot project concerns the provision of digital therapy to enable more accurate monitoring of blood coagulation. This can reduce patients’ risk of stroke. The aim is not only to provide better treatment, but to reduce costs and resource use and to provide evidence of the suitability of digital therapy and its related delivery model for primary care.
Project implemented by: Oulunkaari local authority (in Finnish), Päivi Rekinen
Digital therapy: Orla-DTx INR remote monitoring solution, Tomi Kurppa
Remote rehabilitation of musculoskeletal disorders
Musculoskeletal disorders often involve a fear of movement, inhibiting patients’ functional capacity and quality of life. However, successful rehabilitation depends on self-motivated exercise. The pilot project uses digital therapy, which has been shown to significantly reduce fear of movement. The aim is to support chronic pain management for patients with musculoskeletal disorders and reduce their fear of movement, while improving their quality of life and ability to cope with the demands of daily life.
Project implemented by: Live Foundation, Jori Reijula
Digital therapy: Orion (DTx based on virtual reality technology)
Weight management self-care in primary healthcare
Obesity is one of the major health problems worldwide. The pilot project will offer patients digital therapy proven to assist weight management. The aim is to reduce overweight and the effects of weight reduction on cholesterol and blood sugar, for example.
Project implemented by: Hospital District of Central Finland, Jari Porrasmaa
Digital therapy: Onnikka
What do we expect from the pilot projects?
- The project should focus on the treatment, management or prevention of a specific disease, syndrome or set of diseases.
- The digital therapeutic must constitute a treatment or prevention of a specific disease.
- The project will gather experiences from professionals and users.
- The project must end by 31 May 2023.
- The results of the project will be reported to Sitra, which will use the results in its own work and communications.