The diagnosed prevalent population of patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) across the 16 major pharmaceutical markets (16MM) (US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, and South Korea) is expected to increase from around 7.5 million in 2019 to over ten million by 2029, according to GlobalData’s Epidemiology Database. Driven by the growth in ageing populations, healthcare systems will struggle to cope with the increased demand, especially if PD therapies continue to focus on symptomatic treatment and disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) fail to garner approval. The expected increase in the PD patient population coincides with a forecasted lack of physicians, with the World Health Organization (WHO) reporting that there will be a global shortage of ten million healthcare workers by 2030. To manage increased patient demand with a reduced workforce, digital therapeutics (DTx) offer a useful option to healthcare systems.

H2O Therapeutics’s Parky app is a relatively new option for prescribing physicians. Parky is a symptom tracker mobile app designed to quantify the kinematics of movement disorder symptoms, including tremors and dyskinesia, in adults with mild to moderate PD. Based on artificial intelligence (AI) technology, Parky continuously collects motion data through the movement disorder application programming interface (API) tool of an Apple Watch, quantifying tremor and dyskinesia episodes based on a clinically validated algorithm. These tracked symptoms are then regularly reported via email to the prescribing healthcare professional. Parky also features a medication reminder module and a fall detection system. H2O Therapeutics received 501k regulatory approval from the FDA in November 2022, but the developer then faced the challenge of improving patient access and removing barriers to patients.

To improve its commercial reach, H2O Therapeutics announced a strategic partnership with AmerisourceBergen in April 2023 to bring the Parky app onto AmerisourceBergen’s DTx Connect platform. Developed in partnership with Twistle, a patient engagement tech provider, and launched in July 2022, DTx Connect is an ordering, dispensing, and fulfilment platform. The platform integrates electronic health records (EHRs) and makes it easier for physicians to prescribe DTx, thereby improving patient access. The partnership between H2O Therapeutics and AmerisourceBergen should benefit patients with PD by helping to reduce some of the barriers to patient access to DTx, which can help control disease symptoms. However, there are many more challenges facing the widespread adoption of Parky and similar DTx, such as the need for easy usability, patient and physician tech acceptance, and secure patient privacy. For example, while Apple is considered to be a leader in data privacy, according to GlobalData, there is wariness over the scope of personal health data that Big Tech such as Apple have access to, which could deter patients from using one of these devices. However, the biggest challenge for H2O Therapeutics is the need for improved global reimbursement strategies and the accessibility of its product. Parky relies upon the use of an Apple Watch, and the cheapest Apple Watch model on the market as of July 2023, the Apple Watch SE, currently retails on Apple’s website for $249. H2O Therapeutics will need to convince payors of the cost-effectiveness of Parky, which will be made more difficult by the smaller number of Apple Watch users in comparison to smartphone users, on which many other DTx are available.