My Biggest Takeaway from Interning at Oshi Health by Lavanya Rajan

The Significance of Digital Therapeutics and Patient Empowerment

 
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This past spring semester, I studied abroad in Madrid, Spain, and traveled across Europe, having wild adventures with great company. As the semester came to a close, I was sad to leave but ready to embark on a new adventure. I was excited to accept a fantastic internship as an OhanaHealth fellow. Ohana’s program hired me as an intern at the digital health start-up, Oshi Health, located in New York City. My work experience at Oshi Health has shown me how digital therapeutics can empower millions of patients suffering from chronic illness. 

Digital health, an umbrella term for any technologies that engage patients for health-related purposes, is a rapidly growing industry. Digital therapeutics, a sector of digital health, helps to “deliver evidence-based therapeutic interventions to patients that are driven by high quality software programs to prevent, manage, or treat a medical disorder or disease” (Digital Therapeutics Alliance, 5). Patients with severe and debilitating ailments can feel more in control of their condition and live their lives to the fullest. Regular access to digital therapeutics potentially reduces patients’ stress and improves relationships with healthcare providers. Receiving data on patient engagement and response to therapy enables clinicians to provide the best care and guidance possible to their patients. It’s an efficient management tool that enhances medical treatment while also presenting new therapy options. 

For example, Oshi Health created an IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) management platform through a web-based app. Its users are people who have been diagnosed with IBD (Crohn’s and/or Ulcerative Colitis) and caregivers for patients as such. The Oshi app has three core functionalities: 1) users can track symptoms, 2) learn more about their condition from the dozens of available research articles, and 3) directly ask questions to IBD experts and clinicians. Even though IBD has yet to have a cure or solution, patients can be granted more resources to better manage the variables (sleep, diet, exercise, stress, symptoms etc.) that influence their illness and quality of life. Patients sometimes have a sudden flare-up during remission and not understand why. A factor of singular severity on the patient’s condition might become apparent after consistent tracking using the app. In that case, patients can implement an individualized treatment plan that avoids flare-up triggers. By providing patients with the ability to feel in control of their ailment and be proactive, digital therapeutics gives patients tools for empowerment. 

I’m passionate about furthering the ongoing efforts for improved and inclusive healthcare. Working at Oshi Health has taught me so much about how the convenience of digital health contributes to patients’ management of conditions. I believe digital therapeutics is a practical vehicle of empowerment for patients. After gaining a better grasp of the industry, I’m even more inclined towards a career in healthcare. I’m also really going to miss the collaborative start-up environment. It was inspiring to be surrounded by people who were genuinely passionate about the work they were doing and the impact they were making. As a growth intern, some of my duties involved market research and analysis of the competitive landscape, brand engagement, and customer/partnership acquisition strategy. I learned about advertising tactics on different social media platforms and created content as well. My last day in New York City was bittersweet. I had grown so much both professionally and personally. I will miss the people I met, the internship experience, and the city I have come to love. 

Nicole Mintz