Digital therapeutics (DTx): Prescribers fail to provide patients with sufficient information

Data, facts and instruments on the German health system

What it’s all about

The penetration of digital health applications into the daily prescribing routine of primary care physicians and specialists is taking place only very hesitantly; moreover, many patients do not fill their prescriptions at all or discontinue the DTx use at an early stage. One reason for this lies with the prescribers.

The error triad in physician DTx conversations

An exploration of #patients prescribed DTx yielded the following trends:

  • The applications were described to patients as non-binding complementary options („…there is also a DTx , you can use that in addition if you want…“).
  • Many prescribers do not discuss a therapy goal or make follow-up appointments to determine patient experience.
  • The supportive effects and the possibilities of applications were only touched upon in general terms and the patients were referred to the descriptions of the manufacturers.

Information, goal setting and control

If a physician provides only cursory information to the patient when prescribing a DTx in the manner described, many do not understand how the application works or how they should use it. This leads to confusion or even problems with use and has a negative impact on compliance and thus on the effectiveness of the treatment. An understandable description of the benefits as well as agreement on therapy goals and milestones is the minimum requirement for successful use. This also makes it clear that DTx discussions require more time than the average consultation.

How do physicians get more time?

The complaint about a lack of time is often heard in German medical practices and is almost standard. In fact, however, it is one of the toxic mindsets that pervade outpatient medicine, as practice owners document their work over a longer period of time according to their activities,

it turns out that, on average, a third of the work is completely unnecessary and does not benefit the actual task fulfillment.

During these times, practice owners are busy but not productive. One example is the frequently documented „errands“ of physicians to hand over or pick up documents. This alone wastes an average of more than one hour of work time per day. So, apart from individual cases, general practitioners and specialists would have plenty of time to give DTx discussions adequate length.

The simple solution

The quickest and easiest way to eliminate time-wasters and eliminate inefficient or unproductive routines is to conduct a Practice Management Comparison©. How the convenience approach works and what it accomplishes is described in detail in the publication, „Benchmarking Practice Management for Family Physicians and Specialists – Method, Application and Benefits.“ It is free of charge for general practitioners and specialists, the code needed for the free download can be requested by e-mail to, stating the practice address.