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Mhealth Intelligence 06/28/2016

Wearable Helps Cancer Patients Manage Their Pain

Quell Wearable Pain Relief

A wearable device that would help cancer patients and their care providers deal with chronic pain will be at the center of a new digital health study.

The San Diego-based Scripps Translational Science Institutewill partner with Waltham, Mass.-based NeuroMetrix to test the company’s Quell wearable pain relief technology. The lightweight device, which can be worn during the day or night, is designed to provide analgesic therapy for pain and track health metrics, like sleep and activity.

The study is the latest in a series of mHealth projects tied to pain management, ranging from devices and sensors that measure pain to technology platforms that track the effects of pain medication and their potential for abuse.

It’s also one of a growing number of mHealth platforms designed to help people with cancer. Earlier this year, the American Cancer Society jumped onto the bandwagon with both feet in a partnership with IBM Health. The deal puts IBM’s Watson supercomputer to work creating a Virtual Cancer Health Advisor, which can scour cancer and health and wellness databases and provide patients with personalized data on care management, including pain management. Long-term plans call for the advisor to be integrated with IBM’s Watson for Oncology decision support tool for clinicians.

The STSI project is focused on helping the estimated 15 million Americans living with cancer, more than half of which deal with chronic pain issues. While the most common care plan calls for prescription opioids, a prevalence of harmful side effects and overuse is putting the healthcare industry on the spot to look at other methods for managing pain.

“We recognize the importance of cancer related pain, and more broadly the difficulties associated with opioid therapy in chronic pain,” STSI Director Steve Steinhubl, MD, said in a press release. “We hope that this study provides insights into novel therapies for this critically important clinical challenge.”

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