After one year, the DISCover Program has gathered observations from more than 10,000 people living with chronic pain. Many are using mHealth tools to track their daily health and wellness.
A national research project focused on people living with chronic pain has found that more than 80 percent are using mHealth tools to monitor their activity. This, in turn, could lead to newer and better digital therapeutic programs for care management.
One year after the Digital Signals in Chronic Pain (DiSCover) Program was unveiled by Evidation Health, a California-based digital health company, officials say they’ve enrolled more than 10,000 people and are getting preliminary results on how chronic pain affects everyday life.
Those enrolled in the program are using a variety of mHealth platforms – including smartphones, wearables, connected sensors, health apps, voice and speech, genetics, traditional blood-based biomarkers and direct patient reports – to track their health.
And tracking conditions and causes is just the first step.
“An estimated 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain – more than one in five adults – yet the chronic pain space remains in desperate need of innovation,” Evidation Health co-founder and president Christine Lemke, who volunteered to be the program’s first participant, said in a recent press release. “These millions of silent sufferers require breakthroughs in the way chronic pain is measured, diagnosed, and treated and we welcome collaboration in this research effort.”
Touting DiSCover as the largest nationwide study of chronic pain, Evidation Health officials are poised to release results from the first year of the program at the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes annual meeting in May. Their goal is to create a digital health registry and database that can be used to better understand chronic pain and tailor treatments – including mHealth programs – that improve health outcomes.
“Novel research methodologies will enable the quantification of real-life outcomes in chronic pain across thousands of patients,” Christine Sang, MD, MPH, director of translational pain research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a consultant to the study, said a year ago, when the project was launched. “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.”
According to organizers, the program has yielded several observations:
- Some 83 percent of participants use activity trackers like those made by Fitbit, Apple Watch, Withings, Under Armour and Garmin. And they’ve found that they’re, on average, 25 percent less active than those who don’t live with chronic pain.
- Those living with chronic pain say their condition is caused by headaches including migraines (51 percent), osteoarthritis (34 percent), fibromyalgia (32 percent), peripheral neuropathic pain (20 percent), rheumatoid arthritis (10 percent), cancer (4 percent) and multiple sclerosis (2 percent).
- About 70 percent of those dealing with chronic pain use over-the-counter medications, while 42 percent use non-opioid prescription medications, 26 percent use prescribed opioid medications, 20 percent use a meditation or mindfulness mHealth app, 17 percent use medical marijuana and 7 percent use acupuncture.
- Patient engagement is high, with participants, on average, completing 70 percent of their monthly surveys. Among those who were eligible for each procedure, 73 percent have completed genetic testing, 76 percent have completed inflammation blood testing and 70 percent of those in a migraine sub-study submitted multiple voice samples over a 10-day period.
The DiSCover Project aims to tackle a condition affecting some 50 million Americans and providing ample fuel for the nation’s ongoing opioid addiction epidemic.
“Despite the high prevalence of chronic pain, finding effective treatment options is significantly complicated by the fact that each person experiences chronic pain in a different way day to day,” Evidation Health officials said at last year’s launch. “This study aims to shed new light on the spectrum of chronic pain experiences in individuals through new digital methods.”
Date: April 12, 2019