December 14-15, 2017

MedTech Impact 2017

Venetian/Palazzo Resort

Las Vegas, NV

(561) 893-8633

Category: Medical Technology

New Adherence Technology for Opioid Addiction

A startup company based in Baltimore has recently been awarded research funding by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), through a Small Business Innovation grant. emocha Mobile Health, a company focused on medication adherence, will receive $225,000 through the NIH Fast-Track mechanism, with an additional $1.5 million subsequent to achieving specific milestones.

Healthcare practitioners and professionals across the United States have experienced a rapid increase in the use of both prescription and non-prescription opioids in the last decade, spurring drug overdoses as the leading cause of death among Americans under 50. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, “Overdose deaths, particularly from prescription drugs and heroin, have reached epidemic levels.” A medical treatment option often utilized by professionals and programs includes buprenorphine maintenance therapy: using a partial agonist opioid to treat acute opioid addiction.

emocha’s project is engineered to demonstrate the viability of ‘video directly observed therapy’ for patients receiving buprenorphine treatment in office-based opioid treatment programs (OBOT). Outlined outcomes of interest include patient adherence, care retention, medication diversion, and measures of illicit opioid use and abstinence.

The practice of directly observed therapy (DOT)—watching a patient ingest each and every dose of medication—is the currently practiced global standard of care in tuberculosis and methadone maintenance. The video-based technology utilized by emocha ensures that DOT is more cost-effective, and scalable. The company has additionally deployed the technology for hepatitis C and tuberculosis monitoring. A study conducted at Johns Hopkins recently indicated that emocha’s tuberculosis platform ensured that patients achieved a 92% average adherence to medication, while providers simultaneously saved over $1,400 per patient.

Extensive literature demonstrates that prescribers of buprenorphine for opioid and substance use disorders experience consistent barriers to treatment expansion through medication diversion and patient non-adherence. Statistics show that approximately 50% of patients treated with buprenorphine are not retained through maintenance treatment, and patients undergoing methadone treatment—which requires DOT—will likely experience better retention and overall outcomes.

emocha will focus on developing the technology for OBOT in collaboration with the University of Washington School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center, both of which are considered leading academic medical centers for substance abuse disorders. Dr. Judith Tsui, an associate professor of medicine at the UW School of Medicine, remarked: “I am excited for this opportunity to partner with emocha to learn if this new technology can support patients who are engaging in treatment for opioid use disorders with buprenorphine.”

“This project with emocha will allow us as clinicians and researchers to examine a new platform that has potential to expand our medicine bag with a technological aid that helps patients achieve a successful recovery,” said Dr. Jeffrey Samet, Chief of General Internal Medicine at Boston Medical Center.

Smartphones: Accurately Testing Sperm Count

Smartphones now have the capability to accurately test for sperm count, led by a team of researchers at Harvard who work on developing new tools for patient care. According to the World Health Organization, low sperm count is one of the primary markers for male infertility, which is a globally neglected health issue.

The scientists have developed a rapid infertility diagnostic tool that attaches to a smartphone; the attachment itself is compatible with an app created to count the numbers of sperm and measure motility: markers for infertility. While the team at Harvard is not the first to develop an at-home fertility test designed for men, they are the first to successfully determine sperm concentration in addition to motility.

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Help & Hope for the Hearing-Impaired

Recently emerging advancements in the field of medical technology have offered new hope to those who have historically suffered from profound hearing loss.

Specific hearing implants—including cochlear and/or auditory brainstem implants—have ‘revolutionized’ the overall management of hearing loss and impairment. While these surgically implanted devices do not actually amplify sounds like conventionally created hearing aids, they instead provide users with a sense of sound through direct stimulation of the hearing nerves, or the part of the brain involved with hearing.

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