Partnering for DTx success – How we co-develop innovative digital health solutions with pharmaceutical companies

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At Newel Health, we strongly believe in the importance of digital medicines and digital therapeutic solutions in today’s healthcare landscape. That’s why we are dedicated to developing beautifully designed, highly empathetic, and clinically validated digital solutions through partnerships with pharmaceutical, medical device, and other health and wellness companies. 

The industry as a whole is also recognizing the value of these partnerships, and a new model is emerging where pharmaceutical companies are finding compatible partners, whether they be startups or more established companies, to develop digital health and digital therapeutic solutions. Incidentally, these types of partnerships are not new to the world of pharma, as many companies have already collaborated with biotechs. In this case, the biotech company conducts the research, development and building for new molecules, and then the pharma company funds the development and commercializes the final product. A small biotech may have better capabilities in research skills or other specific competencies, or own unique intellectual property, while the pharma company has the resources available to bring that solution to the market, and this combination of capabilities has proven successful time and again in the past. The same concept is now being applied to partnerships for the research, development and commercialization of digital therapeutic products. 

Over the past five years, we at Newel Health have identified a market need for companies like ours that focus all their efforts on the development of digital therapeutic solutions. At the same time, we are seeing more and more pharmaceutical companies recognizing this need to partner with someone that has the depth and breadth of knowledge in the scientific areas required to conceive digital products that will have a meaningful therapeutic outcome. However, our objective is not only about the clinical validity and scientific approach of the solution, but also about producing solutions that are both beautifully designed and easy-to-use for patients and physicians. 

For us, beautifully designed apps are more than just a pretty face; they are an integral part of the strategy that can help the adoption of these interventions. We understand that when someone has a serious health problem, the last thing they want is to be reminded of it every minute. Instead, they would like to mentally escape from the fact that this is happening to them, therefore we try to make the app experience very similar to other things they may be enjoying their digital realm. 

Privacy is key! 

While the focus should be on the clinical and health goals of the application, there are many other factors to consider when building them, with data security being among the most crucial. There are privacy regulations worldwide, but those in Europe with GDPR or in the US with HIPAA, place a huge importance on being able to protect a patient’s identity and their data. Not only for the sake of the patient, but also to avoid the steep penalties associated with potential leaks of this data. That being the case, we also place significant importance on helping our partners stay in compliance by leveraging H.Core, our proprietary Digital Therapeutics (DTx) development framework that manages all the data privacy and data security concerns of the solutions we build. 

H.Core is our foundation. 

It not only handles data security and privacy concerns, but also provides modular services that are specific to the type of digital health and digital therapeutic projects. This means that developing a new product with Newel Health doesn’t mean starting from the very beginning, and worrying about all the foundational elements of a secure app. In the digital medical device world, all of that is already in place and ready to be deployed within H.Core, which allows for the real focus to be on the features and functionalities of the app and building the clinical strategy and data strategy. 

Development Partnership Case: Orion Pharma. 

Newel Health has been engaged in an ongoing partnership with Orion Pharmaceuticals in Finland, with the goal of personalizing therapy for Parkinson’s patients. This is an ambitious objective, given the complexity of the disease, but one that we believed was achievable by bringing our respective areas of expertise together. Through this partnership, we have learned that pharmaceutical companies value working closely with a partner, like Newel Health, rather than simply working with a service provider or app developer

One of the key aspects of this partnership has been the genuine joint interest in putting our efforts together to build a product that would truly increase the value of what we both bring to the table. From our experience, the aspect that would make for a very successful partnership with pharma is creating a scenario where the combined teams are truly working as if they were the same team, the same company. This allows all parties to be completely transparent, open and really press on the elements that can make the product a true 360-degree success

The dynamics of the project also changed, so that rather than being a software house and software developers with a very strong scientific, clinical, technical and design background working on a project for a fee, we became partners as well as investors. And so, for the last two years, we have been developing the minimum viable product for the app which is now known as Soturi – a Finnish word for warrior, not warrior in a militaristic sense, but a sort of gentle kind strong supporter that’s fighting Parkinson’s alongside you. The project, researched and built in collaboration with Orion and Parkinson’s patients and specialists in neurology, has become an app that does multiple things to support people with Parkinson’s directly, but also by collecting the necessary data to, one day, personalize their treatment

Again, an element that has proven to be especially important in this partnership is the trust built between all parties. From the pharma side, knowing that they are working with a partner that has multiple years of experience and extensive knowledge collaborating with companies just like them, and therefore, attuned to the types of objectives, goals, constraints, dynamics that they may experience. Additionally, uniting under a shared vision and being willing to share the risk first towards achieving clinical success, and then towards creating a commercially viable product and solution. 

At Newel Health, we are committed to developing digital health solutions that not only meet the needs of people living with health conditions and their physicians but also prioritize data privacy and security. We believe that through partnerships with pharmaceutical, medical device, and other health and wellness companies, we can continue to co-develop novel solutions that will improve the overall health outcomes for people worldwide! 

Contact me directly at gerry@newel.health to discuss an idea for a digital health solution, or if you are interested in exploring partnership opportunities for our growing DTx products pipeline.  

Gerry Chillè
WRITTEN BY

Gerry Chillè

Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer and Co-Founder of Newel Health, Gerry is in charge of Newel’s evolving DTx pipeline. A keen believer of the ever-increasing role of digital towards expanding therapeutic options and improving health outcomes, Gerry has spent his career providing guidance in the research, design, and funding of digital heath solutions.