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By Monica E. Oss

Use of medication for treating addiction on the increase. Over the past five years, we’ve seen the release of several new medications designed to address addiction (see FDA Approves New Opioid Addiction Treatment Combining Buprenorphine and Naloxone and FDA Approves Vivitrol for Opioid Dependence). And there are currently six new addiction treatment medications in late stage trials in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval pipeline (see Predicting The Future Of Medications-More Options & More Medication Adherence).

The number of units paid by Medicaid for medication assisted treatment (MAT) for addiction disorder increased by 183% between 2011 and 2017 (see Medicaid Payments For Opioid MAT Drugs Nearly Tripled Over Past Six Years), with 26 states covering MAT for opioid addiction (see State Medicaid Coverage Of MAT For Opioid Dependence: An OPEN MINDS Reference Guide). I expect if we had the numbers, we would see similar increases in commercial health plans and in Medicare. And as we look ahead, the opioid crisis is incentivizing states to expand coverage of, and access to, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) by waiving restrictions, using telehealth, or expanding prescriber capabilities within their Medicaid programs (see The State ‘Crazy Quilt’ Of Opioid Treatment Policy).

In addition to the changing face of treatment due to more and different medications (including medications delivered by patches, implants, and as long-acting injectables), we’re also seeing the use of technology, including devices and apps, applied to addiction treatment. There are some interesting technology options, now on the market, to integrate into treatment.

Pear reSET – From Pear Therapeutics, Pear reSET is the first mobile medical application approved by the FDA to help treat substance use disorders, including alcohol, stimulants, cannabis, and cocaine. The digital therapy app consists of a specialized, 12-week program schedule, and is only available for consumers over the age of 17 who have a prescription (see First Prescription App for Substance Abuse Approved by FDA). The Pear reSET-O, which is designed specifically to treat opioid addiction, has not yet been approved but has received an expedited access pathway designation from the FDA.

Addiction CHESS Project (ACHESS) – ACHESS, based on the Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (CHESS), is relapse prevention platform with a “connection app” for consumers and caregivers and a performance dashboard for tracking. It is a smartphone-based relapse-prevention system to help alcohol-dependent consumers by providing communication with peer support groups, addiction experts, timely monitoring, reminders and alerts, and one-touch communication with a care manager.

Triggr Health – This is an app-based predictive care system that reduces drinking and drug use. It is an AI-based platform delivering mobile care through “Taylor”, a distributed person that enhances remote clinical teams using smartphones. Its data analytics engine can predict unhealthy behavior with 92% accuracy days before it happens.

SOBERLINK – This is an advanced “smart” Breathalyzer, allows for convenient and discreet mobile alcohol monitoring by integrating several technologies. An embedded camera captures an image of the participant during the breath test for identity verification and a cellular module wirelessly transmits the test data to an online web portal. The web portal is completely automated with Adaptive Facial Recognition (TM) software, automated test reminders for participants, and instant alerts for designated contacts if there are signs of a relapse.

The NSS-2 Bridge – This is the first device to gain FDA approval for reducing the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. It is a nerve stimulator placed behind a consumer’s ear, that emits electrical pulses to stimulate branches of certain cranial nerves for relief from opioid withdrawal symptoms (see FDA Grants Marketing Authorization Of The First Device For Use In Helping To Reduce The Symptoms Of Opioid Withdrawal).

And we can expect more of these developments in the not-so-distant future. Late last month, the FDA announced new draft guidelines intended to help with the development of new MAT medications for opioid treatment (see FDA Takes New Steps To Advance The Development Of Innovative Products For Treating Opioid Use Disorder). And in February, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it will take a new approach to MAT by increasing the share of programs that offer MAT, and expanding the types of MAT it will approve (see Feds To Focus On Increasing Share Of Medication Assisted Opioid Addiction Treatment).

This means that health plans and provider organizations are facing a fundamental challenge—with new medications and new treatment technology, what is best practice? How to decide? What to adopt? For more on that, check out these resources from the OPEN MINDS Circle Library:

  1. Your Tech Functionality Checklist For Value-Based Reimbursement
  2. The Tech Checklist For Value-Based Contracting Success
  3. The Strategy Of Tech Investment
  4. How To Build A Successful Technology Plan: From Innovation & Strategy, To Budgeting & Selection
  5. More Tools For Tech ROI
  6. Do You Have A Leadership Strategy For Tech ROI?
  7. What New Treatment Technology For You?
  8. Technology Moves From Compliance To Strategic – The Three Tech Mega Trends Of 2017
  9. The Emerging Digital Treatment Era
  10. The Shift From Residential: The Changing Addiction Treatment Landscape

For more, join me on October 24 at The 2018 OPEN MINDS Technology & Informatics Institute for my plenary address, “Meeting The Innovation Challenge In Health & Human Services: Building A Nimble Management Team To Respond To Opportunities In A Value-Based Market.”


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