Q&A with David Purdie, Ph.D.
Vice President, Medical Affairs
and Clinical Development

Proteus Digital Health, Incorporated

Frost & Sullivan recently caught up with Dr. David Purdie, Vice President, Medical Affairs and Clinical Development at Proteus Digital Health, Inc. Proteus is currently developing a new category of pharmaceuticals known as digital medicines, encompassing drugs that communicate when they’ve been taken, wearable sensors that capture physiologic response, applications that support patient self-care and physician decision-making, and data analytics for doctors and health systems.

Dr. Purdie answered the following timely questions about emerging products and services in healthcare today and shared his insights about where the payor/provider ecosystem is heading.

As you have worked in both research and the for profit sector, can you share your observations about where the payor/provider ecosystem is heading? Which side plays a more pivotal role in the healthcare industry?

Both the payer and provider ecosystems will continue to consolidate and move in the direction of precision health medicine for individuals. This is an opportunity for patients to meet their health goals through greater engagement with their own care (e.g., through shared decision making), and enabled by technology that is finally making its way into the care setting. Technology that is becoming mainstream provides insights and data about patients’ health in the 98% of their lives when they are not in the clinical setting; enables healthcare teams to know which patients are in greatest need of help through data and insights they receive remotely; and engages patients through feedback and behavioral cues that educates them to take better care of themselves.

An example of this is digital medicines, which are medications with sensors, that when ingested turn on and send information to a wearable sensor patch. The patch adds to that information about the patient’s health, including their heart rate, rest, activity and steps. This information is sent to an app on the patient’s mobile device so they can see the direct relationship between their medication taking and their health – and it is also sent to their healthcare providers who are then able to see how well the patient is doing and contact them if there is cause for concern.

New models are emerging that focus on population health management, where payors and providers work together to take care of people and not just treat diseases. When care of individuals is paid for by payors and preventative medicine becomes the norm, there will greater efficiencies in the healthcare system and better health outcomes. For example, unless payors reimburse health care providers for their time when using a new tool that allows them to monitor the health of their patients outside the clinic, the provider is less likely to utilize that tool. A system that incentivizes patients and providers to engage in ongoing, shared and informed health management is critical to solving our healthcare crisis.

How do you incorporate patient empowerment when working to innovate (healthcare) yet still keep standards high within the constraints of regulation?

Patient empowerment is critical for improving outcomes and reducing costs in our healthcare system. Concepts such as shared decision making, patient education, patient advocacy and digital health tools are all critical components of a successful population health management strategy. By truly understanding what the patient’s goals are, treatment can be more efficiently tailored to meet their needs, and by giving patients more information about their health and engaging them through feedback and behavioral queues, we will start to see better health outcomes and lower costs.

Do you collaborate with payors or providers in your work? What are some of the biggest hurdles to improving the connection between the payor and the provider and for better healthcare overall? Emerging practices or guidelines for success?

Yes, we work closely with providers in the development of digital medicines. Providers are critical partners in creating our product offering, providing insight on what will work for patients, and what will work for themselves and their care teams.

Each care team that has added digital medicines to their practice has helped us to understand how to best incorporate a digital medicine offering into the clinic workflow.
Another critical partner for us includes the pharmacists and pharmacy staff who we partner with to implement digital programs as a mechanism to better engage them in patients’ medication management. Digital medicines create an opportunity for a closed loop information sharing system between the whole healthcare team and the patient.

We are working with payors to build innovative, value-based models for our digital medicine program, where payment is tied to whether patients are taking their medicines, and their achievement of desired health outcomes. We believe this is the future of reimbursement for health care solutions.

Can you briefly discuss a situation where the patient experience focus proved to be more effective and efficient than a different focus?

Proteus is deploying digital medicines to treat underserved Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) patients at health systems across the U.S. These patients would not usually have access to direct acting agents (DAA) that can cure their disease, often because they are homeless or transient. One patient previously denied DAA therapy due to a history of missing lab and office appointments was successfully started on Digital DAAs. After starting therapy, the patient continued to miss appointments, but the physician was able to see that the patient was extremely adherent, taking 94% of doses on time. This patient achieved undetectable viral loads at the end of their treatment.

Did you collaborate with the Health Insurance companies when developing new drugs? How was the patient perspective incorporated into that plan?

We collaborate and seek input from many kinds of stakeholders across the healthcare spectrum, but we do put the patient at the center of everything we do in developing features of digital medicines that meet their needs.

Proteus Digital Health CEO and Co-Founder, Andrew Thompson, recently stated that “The age of digital medicines has already begun.” Can you elaborate? Provide examples and effects this might have on the healthcare industry?

Digital medicines have been in commercial use for three years, and in clinical use for even longer. In that time, we have consistently seen patients improving their medication taking from an average of 50% (claimed by the World Health Organization) to upwards of 87% or better. In our experience, the feedback digital medicines provide to patients helps them engage in their healthcare management (taking their medicines as prescribed more often; entering optional info like blood sugar levels or weight; and increasing their activity levels) and improves conversations between patients and their providers because they can discuss objective data that informs treatment decisions.

David Purdie, Ph.D., M.Med.Sc, B.Sc. works as the Vice President of Medical Affairs and Clinical Development at Proteus Digital Health. In this role, David is accountable for the clinical development, evidence generation, and evidence communication/education for Proteus’ work in digital medicines.

Prior to joining Proteus, David was the Head of Patient Access and Quality of Care at Genentech, U.S. Medical Affairs, a group that is responsible for communicating clinical and health economic information to payers and organizations that influence patients’ access to therapies.
Previous roles at Genentech included Director of Oncology Training and Director of Marketing Science. David was also a Senior Statistician in the Biostatistics Department at Genentech where he designed and performed statistical analyses for clinical oncology programs, and negotiated with the FDA on Biological Licensing Agreements.

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