Companies aim to use tech to help solve epidemic
Ohio is taking center stage in the fight against the international opioid epidemic. Over the past year, innovators from across the world have been working to advance new technologies to help solve this global problem. This month, 12 finalists of the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge will find out which four projects will be awarded a $1 million to continue building their solutions, getting them to market and saving lives.
The Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge launched in October of 2017 with an $8 million commitment to advance new ideas in the battle against opioid drug abuse and addiction. Companies have been competing in the Challenge, a partnership between the Ohio Third Frontier and global science and technology network NineSigma, building and expanding their ideas along the way. In September 2018, 12 finalists were awarded $200,000 to further develop their innovations. On August 27, four prize recipients will walk away winners and continue bringing their groundbreaking ideas into the market.
Here are the 12 finalists trying to change the lives of millions with their revolutionary solutions:
Apportis LLC – Dublin, Ohio
Apportis’ solution is developed around what they call the “moment of readiness.” They believe those battling opioid addiction have a specific moment when they’re willing to seek help and treatment, and are developing an application aimed at responding to that moment, no matter when it occurs. Apportis developed an application with a button that connects to a counselor who will help users find support while remaining anonymous until they feel comfortable and confident that they want to seek treatment. The process does not involve law enforcement or legal repercussions, and finds the closest available local support.
Brave – Vancouver, British Columbia
Launched in 2015, the Vancouver company is developing the Brave Button, a device that can be installed in the home of a person struggling with addiction or opioid use. When activated, the quarter-sized button immediately requests supervision or support in response to opioid overdose or other emergency situations. The Brave Button aims to reduce overdoses and deaths from opioid use by providing a safe and trusted way to request help.
DynamiCare Health – Boston, Massachusetts
The team at DynamiCare wants to help recovering opioid patients by providing positive resources and rewarding healthy behavior. Through their mobile app, DynamiCare facilitates testing, medical support, scheduling and more. Patients are scheduled for breath or saliva tests and self-administer them on selfie video with professionals. They can keep track of appointments and records through the app, and are financially rewarded on a smart debit card for keeping medical or mental-health appointments and achieving milestones. The program can be used for recovery from drugs and opioids, alcohol or tobacco.
Innovative Health Solutions – Versailles, Indiana
Innovative Health Solutions is developing a device called the NSS-2 BRIDGE, a device that uses electrical nerve stimulation to address symptoms of opioid withdrawal. The small device sits behind a patient’s ear and uses microtechnology to target specific nerves for gentle electrical stimulation that reduces symptoms in as little as 10 minutes. The device received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2017.
InteraSolutions – Orem, Utah
The InteraSolutions team is developing the Screen for Opioid Abuse Risk (SOAR) to screen for opioid abuse risk in Ohio. The platform partners with the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers, which represents over 300 community-based clinics in medically-underserved areas, to allow prescribers to monitor drug dispensing and identify at-risk patients. SOAR’s goal is to reduce opioid misuse and overdose rates by proactively identifying those with depression, anxiety and other risk factors for opioid addiction.
OpiSafe – Denver, Colorado
Using a collective of experts, OpiSafe has been developing a pair of programs since 2015 that combine to treat the entire lifecycle of opiate use and abuse. First, AI program Adam detects the probability of opioid use disorder and measures risk per patient. Adam works in conjunction with Treatment GPS to identify medical necessity and coverage and share provider ability for patients in a specific area. OpiSafe plans to provide the platform to pharmacists, caregivers, law enforcement and community organizations to help curb opioid addiction and save lives.
Prapela Inc. – Boston, Massachusetts
For Prapela’s project, the company is targeting newborns born with opioid addiction. These newborns suffer from a racing heart rate and breathing problems, and continue to suffer from physical and neurodevelopmental disorders when they return home from the hospital. The company developed the Stochastic Vibrotactile Stimulation (SVS), a small mattress that generates a gentle, random vibration that replaces rapid breathing and irregular heart rates. The treatment is non habit-forming and doesn’t disrupt sleep schedules of the babies. Since starting in a barn two years ago, the project has moved into Boston’s Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center, secured patents and won awards from the National Institutes of Health, FDA and multiple children’s hospitals.
relink.org – Twinsburg, Ohio
Relink.org works to provide a website that enables people struggling with addiction to find recovery service providers, databases and pilot studies. Those searching for information and resources can find government entities, non-government organizations and faith-based providers while remaining anonymous. The site provides resources beyond addiction as well, connecting people to help for human trafficking, behavioral-health counselors, crisis support and basic needs. Those interested in helping the cause can also find connections to organizations looking for volunteers.
University of Akron – Akron, Ohio
Researchers at the University of Akron have developed a test that helps prevent first responders from accidental exposure to opioids. The university has developed a test that gives an instant reading, turning blue in the presence of opioids. The test is safe, cost-effective, instant and easy to use. The Akron team has developed the test to make it viable for use among a variety of first responders while re-engineering the reaction to make it faster and more reliable.
University Hospitals – Cleveland, Ohio
The team at University Hospitals has developed an app intended to prevent addiction, use disorder and overdoses related to opioids. The app streamlines workflows and interventions to ensure that care is provided at the right time, place and cost, creating a “safety net” as patients transition from hospitals back into their communities. The hospital makes its network of resources available to patients’ needs. Since its introduction, University Hospitals estimates that it has kept 12,000 opioid pills out of the community in eight months.
University of Wisconsin – Madison, Wisconsin
Created at the Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies at the University of Wisconsin, the Rise Up smartphone app is designed to give patients the ability to cope with addiction struggles. The app provides tools and resources for those struggling with opiates and motivates them to keep going while collecting data used to evaluate and monitor their success. The app also provides ways for them to learn from and get support from others with the same experience. The University has also launched a family version of the app aimed at families of loved ones struggling with opioid recovery.
Vuronyx – Woburn, Massachusetts
The team at Vuronyx has developed the VivaDetect idCard Kit, a rapid-detection kit that protects first-responders from unknown powders. A color-changing card tells first responders what the powder is, which can save lives. First responders simply add water to the powder, which tests almost immediately for different substances. Vuronyx partnered with Bowling Green State University graduate students to test the cards and teach students to properly handle substances.
With 12 revolutionary ideas to choose from, who will take home the $1 million prizes?