|Year : 2022 | Volume
| Issue : 4 | Page : 205-206
Digital therapeutics in diabetes: A significant tool to address employees' health and productivity
Arbinder Kumar Singal1, Rajgopal Thirumalai2
1 Office of Chief Executive Officer, Fitterfly Healthtech Private Ltd, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
2 Office of Head of Advisory Board, Fitterfly Healthtech Private Ltd, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
|Date of Submission||21-Nov-2022|
|Date of Acceptance||13-Dec-2022|
|Date of Web Publication||24-Dec-2022|
Dr. Arbinder Kumar Singal
Fitterfly Healthtech Pvt Ltd, 503, Akshar Blue Chip Corporate Park, Turbhe MIDC, Navi Mumbai - 400 705, Maharashtra
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Singal AK, Thirumalai R. Digital therapeutics in diabetes: A significant tool to address employees' health and productivity. Indian J Occup Environ Med 2022;26:205-6
|How to cite this URL:|
Singal AK, Thirumalai R. Digital therapeutics in diabetes: A significant tool to address employees' health and productivity. Indian J Occup Environ Med [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Mar 25];26:205-6. Available from: https://www.ijoem.com/text.asp?2022/26/4/205/364935
| Introduction|| |
Based on estimates in 2021, 74.2 million people with diabetes resided in India which was expected to rise to 124.9 million by 2045. While diabetes mellitus (DM) continues to reach such “pandemic proportions,” achievement of diabetes treatment targets (specifically ABC targets—HbA1c, blood pressure, and LDL cholesterol) remains suboptimal with only 7.7% of individuals with diabetes in India achieved the targets. This brings forth an urgent need to strengthen diabetes infrastructure and to ensure access to high-quality, affordable, and appropriate diabetes care at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels.
Additionally, the adoption of healthy behaviors including consumption of healthy diet and performing regular exercise continues to remain suboptimal for people with diabetes in India. One of the solutions to this is inspired by the increasing use of mobile phones and other electronic devices which can be used to enable lifestyle and behavioral modifications in people with diabetes during the intervals between healthcare visits. Digital therapeutics (DTx) is one such technology for the prevention and personalized management of DM based on evidence-based therapeutic interventions delivered through mobile applications and remote health coaching by healthcare professionals from different specialties.
| Digital Therapeutics (DTx) in Diabetes|| |
According to the Digital Therapeutics Alliance, DTx is defined as a modality to “deliver evidence-based therapeutic interventions to patients that are driven by software to prevent, manage, or treat a medical disorder or disease. They are used independently or in concert with medications, devices, or other therapies to optimize patient care and health outcomes.” The core advantages of DTx along with suitable examples in diabetes management are described in the [Table 1].
|Table 1: Advantages of digital therapeutics and examples in diabetes management|
Click here to view
| Current State of Employee Health and Diabetes in India|| |
As of October 2022, the labor force in India is close to 429.8 million. Seventy-five percent of this huge workforce is estimated to be at higher risk of developing diabetes. In the context of diabetes, the high out-of-pocket expenditure exposes 30% of the Indian population (or more than 400 million individuals who represent the “Missing Middle” not covered by health insurance) to catastrophic spending due to frequent healthcare visits. With respect to employees in India, Social Health Insurance Schemes like the Employees' State Insurance Scheme (ESIS) and Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) cover only 10% of the eligible population, whereas Private Voluntary Health Insurance (PVHI) covers only 9%. The “Missing Middle” includes multiple sections of the Indian workforce including those who are self-employed in rural areas (agriculture or otherwise) and a broad array of occupations in urban areas (informal, semi-formal, and formal).
Consequently, absence of adequate in-patient and out-patient benefits led to lack of utilization of the primary healthcare infrastructure, limited information sharing across providers and healthcare systems, and suboptimal primordial and primary prevention strategies, further causing delay in screening and management of chronic conditions like DM. Besides, due to resource constraints in the public hospitals, employees often needed to seek treatment in the costlier private sector leading to >7% Indians being pushed into poverty every year. The COVID-19 pandemic has further led to significant changes in employment with reduction in physical activity, changes in food habits, along with stress and isolation. All these factors are detrimental to people with diabetes toward the achievement of the ABC targets.
Efforts are underway through programs like the National Program for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases, and Stroke and the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) schemes to improve policies for better management of DM.
| Potential of DTx in Diabetes Management Among Employees|| |
Diabetes has been reported to result in lost labor productivity due to absenteeism and presenteeism, and loss of laborers from the workforce due to hospitalizations and complications of DM. In the Indian context, this leads to indirect costs of diabetes care in addition to the direct costs of frequent hospital visits. There is a need for affordable and accessible solutions for employees to better manage DM, while making it feasible for employers to invest in such interventions.
DTx has the potential to achieve both these goals through enabling a healthier lifestyle among employees while reducing the effect on absenteeism, presenteeism, and loss of employees from the workforce, as well as boosting employee productivity. According to a publication by Omada Health, employees who participated in their digital diabetes prevention program had a reduction in all-cause healthcare spend of US$1169 per participant relative to the comparison group driven by fewer inpatient hospital admissions and shortened length of stay. Similarly, an analysis conducted by Center for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the return-on-investment break-even point for digital behavioral counseling in patients with prediabetes or cardiovascular disease was 3 years with the potential to reduce diabetes incidence by 33% and stroke by 16% over 5 years. These results will enable better engagement among people with diabetes and promotion of healthy behaviors in employees that can help in driving conversations with payers and employers regarding insurance coverage for DTx.
| Conclusion|| |
While diabetes mellitus continues to be an important healthcare problem among employees in India, digital therapeutics can help in developing healthy behaviors among people with diabetes through evidence-based, personalized care within the context of limited healthcare coverage in the country.
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