Digital Health’s combination of healthcare, life sciences, and technology capabilities offers the potential to fill unmet needs in the patient journey. And by pushing this advantage and seizing the opportunity to build, buy or partner on new solutions life sciences firms have a chance to disrupt the disruptors.

There’s no rule that disruptive business ideas must be limited to nimble startups with flashy technology. Take Digital Health, for example, where incumbent life sciences companies are well-positioned to identify opportunities and then deliver new products and services to improve the lives and customer experiences of the patients they serve.

Diabetes is perhaps the biggest potential arena for disruption in Digital Health, for three reasons. First, whether Type 1 (T1D) or Type 2 (T2D), diabetes is a chronic condition that requires lifelong treatment and ongoing monitoring.

Second, diabetes affects a large population, especially with the increase over the past few decades in the lifestyle-driven Type 2 condition. And third, diabetes remains an ongoing challenge for which patients are still searching for more effective and differentiated solutions.

The patient journey

Diabetes is unique among chronic conditions in both the size of its population and the need for constant vigilance. Some 30 million Americans have diabetes, and another 86 million are deemed pre-diabetic. And yet, despite a crowded market with multiple therapy mechanisms, large gaps, and inefficiencies in treatment remain not to mention underwhelming patient experiences. 

Digital Health

Suffice it to say; it’s a market that is ripe for disruption. Digital Health offers life sciences companies a path to drive that disruption, but first, they need to consider the four basic stages of the diabetes patient journey:

  1. Awareness: Whether it’s understanding of warning signs or simply knowing the difference between T1D and T2D, awareness is an enormous obstacle. But it’s also a critical time for intervention, lest individuals end up with a diagnosis on an emergency basis.
  2. Diagnosis: This stage typically involves multiple medical visits with tests, rapid patient (and family) education and, in some cases, emergency care.
  3. Treatment: Now the steep patient learning curve becomes a daily challenge as patients face a daunting array of self-care tasks and management options: A1C tests, carb-counting, varying insulin dosages and then the best monitoring and delivery methods for their lifestyle preferences and severity of their condition.
  4. Self-management: “Success” for patients means they are ultimately able to manage much of their treatment on their own, but they now need to navigate a crowded array of Digital Health options that can be frustratingly confusing, cumbersome and inefficient.

A matrix of opportunities

The sheer complexity and duration of the patient journey are filled with both challenges and opportunities. Digital Health can deliver those opportunities, but life sciences companies will also want to be aware of the complexity within each of the four stages.

For starters, digital products and solutions are often different for Type 1 and Type 2. Further, the unmet needs and potential opportunities cover a spectrum that runs from clinical and behavioral interventions to specialized hardware and software with myriad nuances.

To guide companies through this complicated matrix, KPMG has developed a comprehensive new report that outlines each patient stage, the related variety of unmet patient needs and the potential for digital health disruption in detail.

By focusing on today’s opportunities to improve existing processes, products, and patient outcomes while also keeping in mind tomorrow’s potential to radically redefine Digital Health life sciences companies have a unique chance to create powerful new to make life easier throughout the often onerous diabetes patient journey.