Delivering on the Promise of Digital Therapeutics

In his recent Forbes article, David Shaywitz agrees with Andreesen Horowitz’s belief that emerging technologies—and the creative thinking that drives them—can have a profoundly positive impact on healthcare and medicine. But he adds an important caveat that caught my eye, and to which I wanted to respond:

“I worry a16z profoundly underestimates the difficulty of developing a behavioral intervention that’s actually clinically effective, and also underestimates the cost of rigorously proving this (and payors are going to demand credible data before agreeing to cover the cost of an intervention such as Omada’s or Propeller Health’s, which both, by design, target a relatively large number of covered lives).”

I’m glad that David mentioned Omada in his article, because we believe that we are leading the charge among digital therapeutics companies to directly address his concerns. How? By investing in and publishing credible clinical evidence, and by using a pricing model that helps payers feel confident that we deliver real results for them.

Omada’s commitment to generating, analyzing, and sharing clinical data is central to our identity. That’s why we submit our results to peer-reviewed medical journals. In April, we became the first digital health company to publish two-year results; those results demonstrate that Prevent® participants maintain clinically-meaningful reductions in weight and blood sugar (hemoglobin a1c) 24 months after beginning the program.

In addition, Omada’s Prevent was recently compared with face-to-face behavioral therapy by Veteran’s Administration (VA) researchers, in a presentation at the Society for Behavioral Medicine conference. Prevent® was shown to have clinical outcomes that are similar to face-to-face therapy. This is particularly exciting when you consider that Prevent, by delivering the program via an internet connection, can effectively reach exponentially more patients in need. This level of accessibility is essential to reach the ~150 million American adults who are at risk for diabetes and/or heart disease.

We are proud that Omada’s evidence generated to date has earned the confidence of the numerous health insurance issuers and employers that we have the privilege of doing business with. But we won’t stop there - we have an ambitious research agenda and publication plan - stay tuned!

In addition to generating and delivering necessary evidence, Omada’s pricing model reflects the philosophy that digital therapeutic companies should take on meaningful financial risk for delivering real results. Specifically, a significant proportion of Omada’s revenue is collected from customers only as individual patients achieve clinically-meaningful outcomes milestones.

To be sure, this is a nerve-wracking business model for Omada as a company. But we do not feel comfortable building a business based on empty promises. Every single person at Omada - from our health coaches to our designers to our executive team - knows that if our program doesn’t work, our company cannot exist. This business model, and our unanimous belief in it, do two very important things. First, they holds us continuously accountable for delivering clinical benefit to patients. Second, they provide us with an incentive to continuously explore and implement program enhancements, using Omada’s unique blend of capabilities in clinical psychology, health services research, and data science.

David is one of our favorite thinkers on health care innovation – he featured Omada in our early days as a company, and our CEO Sean Duffy recently appeared on the Tech Tonics podcast David co-founded. We were glad he identified digital therapeutics as one of the three major platforms on Andreessen’s health care investment strategy.

Furthermore, we share David’s optimism that digital therapeutics has a role to play in bringing next-generation behavioral therapies to bear, to disrupt the health care system - if proper evidence is generated and incentives for ongoing performance are put in place. We believe that Omada’s growth is testament to the fact that we are delivering on David’s priorities in these areas. And, we promise to keep investing in evidence and continuous improvement - it is our responsibility as the pioneer of the emerging category of digital therapeutics.