Digital Health: let’s start from basics

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digital health
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What does Digital Health exactly mean? Speaking of Digital Health and Digital Therapies is it the same
thing? What are the regulations? Getting to know the right nomenclature, in order to understand Digital
Health applications is not secondary at all, since that behind this term there are too many definitions.

Definitions

In the old Digital Medical Society vocabulary (2019), “Digital Health” encompasses every digital technology addressing health. There are several kind of digital technologies, that is why we discussed about it together with Mr. Giuseppe Recchia, pioneer in this field, and co-founder/CEO daVinci Digital Therapeutics. The main digital technologies concerns welfare and health, in general. However, they include those innovations, whose goal is data archiving, too, such as hardwares, softwares, databanks. Mr. Recchia says: “Of course, for these last, there is no need for validity tests right now, since their purpose is just to collect and store data and information, objectively. On the contrary, when dealing with Digital Medicine, which means digital technologies, whose goal is to lead to a clinical benefit, and that are both about the condition itself and about the physicians/healthcare staff, they need research activity and efficacy tests to be used. In fact, they are medical devices and are regulated by normatives”.

Two classes of Digital Medicine

Within Digital Medicine we can divide technologies in two classes:

  • those devices which allow measurements, with a monitoring purpose both from physician and patient, to exert a control over parameters and health information, both passively (by means of sensors, pills ingestion which are able to send inputs, etc.) and actively (filling questionnaires, tests, clinical journals, etc);
  • those devices ready for an intervention, that can be divided according to their specific action in the following cathegories:
    a) Digital Self-Management and Education: tools for disease self-management (eg. In patients with arterial hypertension, theese devices can give information about the condition itself, giving advices about nutrition, sport, habits, etc).
    b) Digital Support: virtual programs and applications to optimize a therapy efficacy (eg. To carry on a pharmacological treatment, far from clinics and medical checks; or to represent an informative support provided by the physician him/herself, in order to replace a real check-up).
    c) Digital Rehabilitation: tools to recover physical functions from home, into which patient can take
    advantage of a videogame, helping to reproduce beneficial movements from an avatar, thanks to some clothes equipped with sensors. These targeted exercise will be very useful as physiotherapy.
    d) Digital Therapies: they are softwares and digital programs, dispensing therapies to be combined with pharmacological treatment, or therapies depending on the latter.

Sources:
Recchia G et al. Digital Therapeutics-What they are, what they will be. ACTA SCIENTIFIC MEDICAL SCIENCES (ISSN: 2582-0931) Volume 4 Issue 3 March 2020.