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Evolving Landscape of Software Applications in Health Care


Megan Coder, PharmD, MBA, leads a discussion surrounding the evolution of software applications in the clinical setting.

Megan Coder, Pharm.D, M.B.A.: Mr. Cannon, I’d love to get a better sense from you about the perspective you’re approaching this from. I’m curious to hear about how you’ve seen software applications and these digital therapeutic products influence and change some of the aspects of the health care system.

Eric Cannon, Pharm.D, FAMCP: If you look at the software applications, we’re seeing them across the spectrum. We’re seeing not only digital therapeutics that we’re using with our patients but also new software, new technology incorporated into our electronic medical records. AI [artificial intelligence] is helping physicians generate a problem list based on their notes and helping to coordinate the results of an MRI with a particular disease. Then we’ve got digital therapeutics. Arwen did a great job talking about how supportive that is for her. Honestly, I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface of the full potential of these tools. If you look at these—I can’t remember what came across my desk, but it was something about the top 100 digital therapeutics. I was sitting there going, “I don’t think I even know what they all are. I can get maybe to 10 or 15, 20.” We’re on the front end in terms of what’s coming and how it’s going to change us. Access is an issue across the board regardless of specialty. Getting in to see a primary care physician for an annual checkup or a wellness visit can be tough. We need support for patients with diabetes, yet we don’t have the staff. We’re coming out of COVID-19 with huge staffing issues, and these things are helping us deliver standards of care more efficiently and with less staff.

Megan Coder, Pharm.D, M.B.A.: I appreciate that perspective. One thing you mentioned was diabetes. In Arwen’s earlier discussion, we spoke about some of the mental health and other substance abuse disorders that these are being used for, but do you have any recollection in terms of other digital therapeutic products that address things that are related to chronic disorders that aren’t as behavior focused?

Eric Cannon, Pharm.D, FAMCP: No. For example, there are several products coming out in the oncology space. As I looked at that a month or two ago, it hit me, “The outcome is going to be the outcome.” I don’t know if we can change the outcome through some technology or app. As you look at that in terms of helping patients with mindfulness, helping them cope better with their disease state, helping caregivers as they’re delivering care, we’re seeing this in a lot of disorders. This isn’t something where you’d say, “That’s a result of the behavior they engaged in before, so let’s help them stop that behavior.” Ultimately, there has to be some behavior component because within the application, we’re engaging an individual and building gamification into these things to help engage patients. We want them engaged because there are behavior modifications that will help improve the outcomes of their disease and help improve the health care they’re receiving.

Megan Coder, Pharm.D, M.B.A.: I can respect that. We’re looking at seeing this field grow. When I started in the digital therapeutic space, there were only a handful of companies. We’ve seen so much growth even in areas where I never expected to see mechanisms of action developed for indications. As you’re saying, the idea that digital therapeutics could be used in oncology and cancer settings is incredible when you think about it. It’s great to see that proliferation.

Transcript edited for clarity.

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