The opioid crisis in the US is known to all in the health industry and beyond because of the amount of lives it has impacted. Drug overdose deaths likely exceeded 59,000 in 2016 according to data recorded by the New York Times. Many from our community have been discussing potential ways healthcare technology could play a role in tackling this epidemic.

We decided to launch a Task Force to gain a better perspective of the problem and potential technology enabled solutions from a multitude of stakeholders. To date we have heard from three different stakeholders who shared their insights on the opioid crisis.

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We would love to hear from you about others who should participate in this Task Force based on their efforts to leverage technology to solve problems related to this epidemic. Send your suggestions to tom@healthxl.org.

Key Take Aways
Below are key take aways from the responses we have recieved to date, as well as two highlighted startups who have already announced that they are attempting to leverage technology to address this epidemic.

Q1. What technologies do you believe could have the biggest impact on reducing the overprescription and dependency on opioids? Please provide context as to the reason for highlighting these technologies.

  • Linking all states PDMPs (Prescription drug monitoring programs) and seamlessly integrating them with EHRs and pharmacy dispensing software
  • An app or series of apps that can
    • provide assesment of verified risk criteria for the clinician
    • allow patients to report pain and descriptions of that pain to be reviewed by the clinician who can determine a new course of action if necessary to do so
    • educate the patient on the safety and efficiacy of opioid medication therapy
  • Virtual and augmented reality technologies to provide alternatives or supplements to pharmalogical approaches

Q2. What do you believe to be the barriers to the universal adoption of such technologies for your stakeholder group?

  • Collaboration between clinicians and informtion technology professionals
  • In-house expertise to utilize technologies available
  • For alternative therapies such as VR/AR payment is an issue as revised clinical guidelines are needed (requiring more evidence-based assesment, and potentially coding alternatives for payors in the future)

Q3. Please provide insight as to the magnitude of the problem as you experience it in your work setting?

  • There are very few ways you can truly help a person in the preventative setting other than pain management and/or substance-use disorder treatement
  • In a post-acute setting, paying attention to functional improvement with pain management is paramount, compared with just their pain scale - as well as limiting prescribing of opioids to a limited time period
  • From a payors perspective there is a significant increase in members negatively impacted by opioids, and the peripheral costs although hard to calculate are staggering

We would love to here your thoughts on these key take aways as well as other questions you would have asked the experts involved in this Task Force.

Startup Solutions Addressing the Opioid Crisis
Some trailblazers are setting the tone. Earlier this year a Mobihealthnews article highlighted a number of startup solutions addressing the opioid crisis. We highlighted the two we thought to be most interesting.

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We will be announcing a collaboration with one of our health system partners soon to assist in the generation of more potential solutions to address this giant problem. Watch this space.

What’s Next?
HealthXL have launched a series of Task Forces on behalf of our industry partners. HealthXL will also be sponsoring a Task Force every month to share expert knowledge with the community within areas in need of innovation. See recently sponsored Task Force Pharmacies in the Age of Amazon.

What can a Task Force do for you?
Equip you with the perspective of key stakeholders to make more informed decisions about a problem area of strategic importance to your organization.

Email taskforce@healthxl.org to learn more.

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