Momma Kliff used to say when possible look for the good that comes from a bad situation. Well Mom just might have a field day given how bad things look right now. The country is basically on lockdown until the end of April, several companies have halted clinical trials or put major projects on hold. No one is quite sure what impact the coronavirus will have on sales, but no one is expecting the news to be good.
Still we do see several positives coming out of this crisis and not just the increased use of telemedicine. Before we go into greater detail a quick note about telemedicine. Even before the coronavirus hit the use of telemedicine was on the rise. The pandemic will likely open the floodgates for telemedicine, but this was going to happen anyway.
Thanks to the connectivity of all the toys in the toy chest diabetes could well become the posterchild for just how different things will become. As we have noted many times even before the pandemic hit CGM was becoming the standard for glucose measurement. Thanks to the connectivity of these devices we see the crisis increasing CGM usage among less intensively managed patients.
Along these same lines the pandemic will be a boon for interconnected insulin delivery systems. Again as we have noted there are a plethora of interconnected insulin pens or interconnected disposable insulin pen cap covers. With all this information seamlessly shared via the cloud physicians can monitor patients more effectively. Additionally using telemedicine, email or text messaging physicians can easily communicate with patients.
The hold up here prior to the pandemic was twofold, getting patients comfortable with virtual consultations and reimbursement from payors. Thanks to the pandemic both barriers are coming down. Even when social distancing goes away and patients are allowed to move freely without restriction, we anticipate many will seek alternate methods to the traditional office visit.
Additionally we see patient training moving from face to face to virtual. Just as parents are beginning to experience virtual classrooms for their children, patients with diabetes will experience virtual classrooms when they get a new device. By extension customer support will also move in this direction. Again this is a trend that would have happened anyway but will get a boost thanks to the crisis.
This move to the virtualization will go beyond patient/physician interactions and extend to how drugs and devices are sold. Even before the crisis companies were shedding field sales forces. Thanks to the internet and social media it’s easier than ever for physicians and patients to get information. While we don’t believe field sales forces will be eliminated entirely, not just yet. We do see them becoming more of a luxury used sparingly.
The reality here is that many trends that were already underway will get a major boost from the crisis. When this crisis passes it could finally usher in the real era of digital health. Finally at long last all this whiz bang way cool technology could become mainstream. Listen we have long known digital health had vast potential but that’s all it had, potential. Yet the longer this crisis goes on, the longer people are cooped up in their homes the more digital options are being utilized.
Companies are finding ways to get their message out, their products sold, and their customers trained and supported. Patients are finding way to make sure they have the meds they need without leaving their homes. Social media already a major communication tool before the crisis is becoming even more important. The reality is all this way cool whiz bang technology is now being forced into everyone’s hands. Digital health is no longer the luxury of a select few it is now becoming mainstream.
All along we have stated that it’s not about the toys in the toy chest. That the real trick was getting the patient, the physician, the payor – everyone in the process to play with the toys if they were to be effective. It could be that the good that comes from the bad in this case will be digital health goes from a great idea to a useful productive tool that’s actually used not just talked about.