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Digital Therapeutic (DTx) Integration Guide: How to Choose the Best Fit for Your Clinical Trial

When it comes to clinical trials, DCT and digital therapeutic (DTx) companies are natural partners. Both are tech savvy and adept in digital health—they speak the same language.  

But, finding the right DCT partner is only the first step. DTx companies might have questions about how to achieve a study design that captures the right data—data that demonstrates how patients interact with the DTx, its efficacy and frequency of use, etc.—to validate their device.  

Integration—or connectivity—between the DTx and a DCT platform is an effective avenue for gathering the data that sponsors need when they need it while also making the experience easier for patients. But, integration isn’t one size fits all.  

So, what are the options for integration, and is integration with DCT platforms always necessary for DTx clinical trials?  

We’re breaking down the three main approaches to integration so you can find the right fit for your clinical trial.

No Integration at All

In a trial with no integration, participants use a DTx that isn’t connected with a DCT platform. They operate the digital therapeutic, then use a separate app (such as the ObvioHealth app) to report DTx use and their outcomes to the study team. For instance, with a point-in-time device like a blood pressure cuff, the patient would take a reading using the device and then report that data manually by inputting it into the DCT app.

Pros:  

  • Needs the least amount of engineering involvement to configure
  • Can be the most cost-effective option

Cons:

  • Juggling multiple devices can be cumbersome and inconvenient for participants  
  • Risk of data inaccuracies because the onus to input data correctly is on the patient
  • Might require data reconciliation between patient-reported outcomes and device-reported outcomes  

Deep Linking

In deep linking, a decentralized trial mobile app links to the DTx software. When opening the clinical trial app, the patient can be directed to the DTx, often without their recognizing the transition. As the patient interacts with the digital therapeutic, clinical trial data is captured. This approach requires the patient to operate only one app, thereby reducing their burden.  

One caveat: If the study protocol requires patients to use the digital therapeutic as a condition of participation, this approach does not measure their propensity for “self-use” (The clinical trial app is prompting the patient to use the digital therapeutic, which means the act isn’t natural or self-determined.). This can be an important criterion for regulatory approval. If sponsors are seeking regulatory approval, it’s important to begin conversations with regulators from the outset to ensure the study design meets the expectations of government agencies.  

Pros:  

  • Easier user experience  

Cons:  

  • May not be suitable for sponsors seeking regulatory approval
  • More expensive due to the high level of engineering required
  • Data on use frequency may be skewed  

Back-end Integration

With back-end integration, the information from the sponsor’s software feeds directly into the study team’s electronic data capture (EDC) platform. The two connect on the back end through an API, creating a direct line between the DTx and the study team. In other words, as a patient interacts with the digital therapeutic, the data from the device flows directly to the study team where it can be monitored in real time. For clinical trial questionnaires, such as ePRO, a clinical trial app would be used separately.  

Pros:

  • Access to real-time data, which provides objective insights into participant adherence
  • Higher data accuracy

Cons:

  • The clinical trial participant must interact with two apps separately (the DTx app and the clinical trial app)  

Bringing It All Together

When navigating a booming market that is expected to reach a $2.5 billion value by 2030, differentiation is key, and that differentiation comes in the form of clinical trial validation. Finding the right DCT partner to design an optimal study is the first step. Working with them to decide which method of integration is the right fit is next.  

There is no “one size fits all” method for integration. Choosing the right fit requires a holistic deep dive into your unique study goals and requirements—the therapeutic purpose of your DTx, your budget, your timeframe, and a myriad of other factors.  

Are you looking for a tech-savvy team to help you choose the right integration fit for your DTx clinical study? We can help.