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Press Release -- January 6th, 2020
Source: AT&T
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Technology Helps Battle the Opioid Crisis

Ask your doctor if IoT is the right prescription for you

As you are probably aware, there’s an ongoing opioid epidemic in the U.S.  You can’t turn on the news without hearing some of the alarming statistics.

  • Opioids led to over 47,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2017
  • For 2018, it was estimated that more than 2 million Americans suffered from addiction to prescription or illicit opioids
  • Opioid dependence can happen after just 5 days of use

You may be wondering why AT&T is talking about the opioid crisis. Well, because connectivity and innovation together can lead to solutions that benefit the greater good. We’ve seen many examples of this across industries - none potentially more evident than in the healthcare space.

I’d like to share examples of some cutting-edge solutions using AT&T connectivity that help address the concerns of this growing crisis and bring potential relief to so many who suffer with pain.

Because of the risk of opiate addiction, hospitals are required by their regulator, to provide non pharma pain treatment options for their patients.

AccendoWave is an opioid alternative. The AccendoWave solution uses a headband to monitor the patient’s brain waves. The device can detect indicators of pain and tries to distract the patient away from the discomfort using content delivered over a tablet. The content provided is determined by the patient’s pain level. The patient can rate whether the distraction alleviated the discomfort. Using machine learning technology, the device knows what type of content works on each individual and offers additional choices as needed.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, between 49% and 70% of all adults will experience a back-pain episode during their lifetime. And back pain is one of the leading ailments for prescribed opioids.

Having experienced years of chronic pain back himself, Paul Leake, CEO of VerteCore Technologies, designed an alternative for back pain relief. VerteCore Lift is the first connected mobile spinal decompression device. The adjustable brace works by decompressing the intervertebral discs, which reduces pressure on the spinal nerve column and helps the body heal without surgery or pain medication. Its comfortable, sleek design allows users to wear it under clothing and continue normal daily routines while receiving spinal decompression therapy.

VerteCore recently worked with the AT&T Foundry in Houston to prototype a smart version of the VerteCore Lift device that uses sensors to measure pounds of pressure and track the patient’s usage and adherence to prescribed treatment protocol. It securely transmits actionable data to the wearer’s healthcare providers to help them prescribe care plans and track the patient’s progress remotely. This helps patients to get relief when and where they need it.

Of course, there are instances where opioids are needed and appropriate and for some pain sufferers it’s their only relief. However, the overuse of narcotics can easily lead to addiction. And with the high value of these medications, the worry of them getting into the wrong hands is a real concern.

That’s why Intent Solutions developed tadTM - a smart pill dispenser. The connected tad uses fingerprint access – a key to deterring misuse and diversion of opioids. A lockout feature is also available, which only allows access at prescribed times. The device records and reports how many, and when, pills are dispensed during a given period.  tad also captures access attempts by unauthorized persons and quits transmitting data if the device is broken into. Alerts are sent when medication is taken. This provides valuable insight to the provider – allowing them to determine early on if the patient is having trouble adhering to the recommended dosage.

We’re proud to work with these innovative companies that exemplify ‘IoT for Good’ by offering potential life-changing alternatives for pain management. We provide the connectivity that is best for their solution. We offer options to our business customers with LTE, LTE-M and NB-IoT. And, like in the case of VerteCore, we can offer our team of experts at the AT&T Foundry to help brainstorm and develop proof of concepts and prototypes.

This epidemic won’t be solved overnight. And new and innovative technology is not the only way to address it. But when creative teams like AccendoWave, VerteCore and Intent Solutions have smart devices that can help to solve a real-world problem, they look to us to connect them over our fast, reliable and highly secure network.

AccendoWave and VerteCore will be on display January 7-10, 2020 in the AT&T booth #44506 at the Digital Health Summit at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas. The AT&T health team can demonstrate how these, and other connected devices are helping to improve patient care.

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