Can An mHealth Kit Improve Outcomes in Workers Comp Treatment?

Cedars-Sinai will be testing a digital pain reduction kit, which includes VR glasses and mHealth wearables, to see if mobile health technology can replace opioids for people recovering from workplace injuries.

 By Eric Wicklund

 – Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is participating in a study to determine whether an mHealth kit containing wearables and a pair of virtual reality glasses can help people suffering from work-related injuries recover more quickly and without the use of opioids.

patient in hospital wearing VR glasses for article, Can An mHealth Kit Improve Outcomes in Workers Comp Treatment?

Researchers at the Los Angeles hospital are partnering with Samsung Electronics America, Bayer, appliedVR and The Travelers Companies for the 16-mointh study, which will put the “digital pain-reduction kit” in the hands of between 90 and 140 participants.

“Workplace injuries that lead to chronic pain can cause ongoing issues, as an injured employee may mask pain with opioids or other drugs,” Dr. Melissa Burke, Travelers’ National Pharmacy Director, said in a press release. “

Identifying new, non-pharmacologic alternatives for pain reduction  can help an injured employee avoid chronic pain, lower the chances that they will develop a dangerous opioid addiction and reduce medical costs.”

Led by Brennan Spiegel, MD, MSHS, Director of Health Services Research for Cedars-Sinai and a professor of medicine and public health at UCLA, Cedars-Sinai has been one of the leadersin studying the application of virtual reality tools and other mHealth devices in healthcare, focusing particularly on digital therapeutics.

“The opioid crisis doesn’t just cost money, it also costs lives,” Spiegel, who will lead this latest project, said in the release. “We need to find ways to stem the tide without relying entirely on medicines. Health technology, like virtual reality, has tremendous potential to improve outcomes while saving costs, which is why we’re so excited about this collaboration among academia and industry.”

Health systems across the country are studying how digital health technology can be applied to pain management, with the goal of replacing costly and addictive medications with technology that improves treatment outcomes and even lifestyles.

“The widespread use of wearables, sensors and digital health tools gives us an opportunity to quantify the real lives of patients who suffer from chronic pain – now a critically important public health condition in the US,” says Deborah Kilpatrick, PhD, CEO of Evidation Health, a California-based digital analytics company that’s now partnering with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston on an mHealth-based pain management study.  “We are running this large-scale pain study to gain powerful insights on how behavioral factors are associated with health outcomes of chronic pain patients.”

“Novel research methodologies will enable the quantification of real-life outcomes in chronic pain across thousands of patients,” adds Christine Sang, MD, MPH, director of Translational Pain Research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a consultant to the study. “If successful, the real-life insights on individual patient-level experiences can inform our efforts to bring relief to the striking number of people with diverse experiences of chronic pain.”

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