The opioid crisis has been ongoing epidemic with no end in sight - but there are new technologies that will be of great help. These technologies include ways to manage pain without opiates, track certain chemicals in the body, and connect pharmacies and providers to provide more data on patients.
A new way to manage pain through technology introduces a drug-free wearable device that is inserted underneath the skin near the nerve closes to wear the pain occurs and an external stimulator worn on a pad on the outer skin surface that alleviates pain; the goal is to treat chronic pain. Neurostimulators currently used are surgically inserted in epidural space and send electrical pulse to the spine. Although it is very effective in dealing pain management, the larger size of the device and the cost makes it a difficult option to offer.
Another new device is a swallowable pill developed to better understand opioid adherence and improve dosages and use of opiates. The capsule consists of a an embedded wireless ingestible sensor that is triggered by chemicals in the stomach that emits a radio frequency that is sent to a readable device.
Superscripts, a network that connects providers and pharmacies, helps to digitize the prescribing process. When a prescription is requested, the patient’s history is sent by the software to the provider in order to weed out patients who are seeking to abuse painkillers. E-prescribing is not commonly used because many providers don’t know that it’s a legal form of prescribing medications.
A multi-institutional, PCORI-funded study aims to understand how cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interview can reduce the use of opioids for patients with chronic pain. The study is a partnership between RTI International and three Mid-South Clinical Data Research Network (CDRN) institutions: Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), Duke University, and UNC Chapel Hill. The Mid-South CDRN seeks to support multi-site research using electronic health record data by reducing technical and regulatory barriers. It is a collaborative effort between VUMC, Meharry Medical College; Vanderbilt Healthcare Affiliated Network; Greenway Health; Health Sciences South Carolina (including Medical University of South Carolina); UNC; and Duke. The Mid-South CDRN is one of 13 CDRNs in PCORnet, the National Patient Centered Clinical Research Network.