Some patients with sleep disorders, back pain, diabetes, cancer, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are benefitting from digital health interventions that use software programmes, often delivered through mobile apps or web-based platforms, to treat, manage, or prevent a medical condition. Designed to provide therapeutic benefits and backed by clinical evidence, these digital interventions often complement traditional healthcare approaches.
“Medicine Without Meds: Transforming Patient Care With Digital Therapies” showcases this new approach, believed to be one of the most promising avenues for improving patient outcomes and the provision of healthcare on a global scale. It also provides a much-needed blueprint for accelerating digital innovation to patients.
While relatively new in the healthcare arsenal, digital therapeutics or DTx, is a new class of medicine akin to drugs. According to the book’s three authors, DTx has the potential to revolutionise patient care by improving access to healthcare, personalising treatment, and increasing convenience in achieving better health.
The book provides actionable ways of bringing digital therapy to fruition and inspiring new AI-driven innovations that could revolutionise the future of medicine. Written by researchers from the Institute for Digital Medicine (WisDM) at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore (NUS Medicine), the book claimed the top spot on Amazon Best Sellers list, in the Health Policy category and History of Medicine category, in May 2023, after it was first made available for pre-orders.
The Institute’s director and one of the book’s three co-authors, Professor Dean Ho, said, “Our vision is to build good digital solutions that are also cost-efficient and sustainable in the long run. From the birth of an idea to its successful implementation, it is critical to engage the key stakeholders closely, including patients, clinicians and investors. The book offers a roadmap on how digital innovation can be developed and implemented effectively, to serve patients, caregivers, and those who may not be in ill health and want to get better.”
Since the team was formed in 2018, researchers have developed digital health solutions to help a patient with advanced prostate cancer who was recommended a 50% reduction in dose of an investigational inhibitor drug for increased efficacy, and subsequently resumed an active lifestyle. In a larger cohort of solid cancer patients, personalised treatment with the CURATE.AI platform saw a marked reduction of nearly 20% on average. This digital solution was widely featured at the prestigious American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting and the ASCO Educational Book. The team also leveraged DTx to address ageing and illness-related challenges in cognitive and physical performance, such as brain cancer and cognitive decline.
In one of the team’s latest DTx projects, conducted in collaboration with local technology and service providers, an application is currently undergoing validation. The app assists patients with hypertension in managing their condition by tracking body vitals, including blood pressure and heart rate, all with just a phone’s camera. Mrs Jenny Pek, 77 years old and a participant of the ongoing study, said, “My doctor has advised me to monitor my blood pressure regularly, and I can easily do that with the help of the app. It provides me useful tips and recommendations that help me keep my diabetes under control.”
Co-author Mr Yoann Sapanel, Head, Health Innovation, WisDM, NUS Medicine, said, “DTx offers a high degree of personalisation tailored to an individual’s needs and progress. They adapt to the user’s specific condition by collecting valuable data on patient progress, which not only benefits patients but also aids healthcare providers in optimising treatment plans, enabling data-driven insights and informed decision-making for the most effective personalised treatment.”
Dr Agata Blasiak, Head, Digital Health Innovation, WisDM, NUS Medicine, is the third author. She said, “DTx plays an important role for Singapore and beyond, as it can allow for decentralised delivery of healthcare at home, for certain conditions. With DTx that can remotely deliver treatment and monitor outcomes, patients need not always visit the clinics or hospitals, and the overall costs of healthcare can be reduced. DTx often works by providing rewarding interactions and nudges through mobile apps, to empower patients to understand and take charge of their condition, make lasting changes in their lifestyle and develop habits for better health and a better life.”
Published as a trade book by the Johns Hopkins University Press, the oldest continuously running University Press in the United States, the book’s foreword is written by American musician and business executive D.A. Wallach, who is passionate about technologies poised to reinvent the practice and delivery of medicine. It also features contributions and insights from various entrepreneurs, executives, patients and clinicians globally, including Associate Professor Ngiam Kee Yuan, Group Chief Technology Officer, National University Health System (NUHS) and Deputy Director of WisDM; Associate Professor Robyn Mildon from NUS Medicine’s Centre for Holistic Initiatives for Learning and Development (CHILD) and Centre for Behavioural and Implementation Science Interventions (BISI), and Founding Executive Director of the Centre for Evidence and Implementation, Australia; Dr Eddie Martucci, CEO and Co-founder of Akili Interactive Labs, United States; and Owen McCarthy, President and co-founder of MedRhythms. The cover was artfully designed with Shian Ng, an acclaimed Singapore artist.
The book is available for pre-orders at SGD $58.36 at Kinokuniya Singapore, and at USD $32.95 at all major retailers in the US, Europe, Australia, and other markets like Taiwan, Japan, and Korea—including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Hudson, Walmart, Waterstones, Books.com.tw, Book Soup, and Bookshop.org. Physical copies of the book are made available worldwide from today. All author proceeds from the sale of the books will be donated to the WisDM Patient Impact Fund, to help patients in Singapore.
More information on the book can be accessed at https://medicinewithoutmeds.tech/.