Pilot using AI and motion-tracking technology to help individuals with back pain relief coincides with recent NICE comments that medication can do more harm than good
US based health services provider Harvard Pilgrim Health Care recently announced preliminary data out of its pilot program with Kaia Health, a digital therapeutics company whose app uses AI and motion-tracking technology to help individuals with back pain relief. It revealed a 35% decrease in pain level and 59% increase in quality of sleep across all users.
The pilot offers Kaia Health's app which provides hundreds of customised exercises for pain management to employees.
Emily Tims, specialist chartered physiotherapist at Vitality360 - a provider of rehabilitation programmes for people with persistent pain and fatigue - said that the industry is likely to see the introduction of more apps like this, especially considering the National Insitute of Clinical Excellence's (NICE) current consultation on chronic pain management.
Key metrics from the app, such as self-reported pain level and sleep quality, show the following as of July 2020:
- At start of using app, 80% of users show a clinically relevant impairment of movement.
- Among those suffering the most from pain (more than 4 on a pain scale of 10), there has been a 40% decrease in pain level and a 58% increase in quality of sleep.
- Among all users there has been a 35% decrease in pain level, 59% increase in quality of sleep, and 92% overall user satisfaction.
Tims commented: "I think these are likely to be helpful as an early intervention for the less severe or complex musculoskeletal conditions. These types of tools are easy for people to access in their own time.
"However, for people with more complex and chronic conditions, one-to-one interactions will be essential for adequate assessment and management."
Meanwhile, NICE has said in its draft clinical guideline published earlier this month, that there's too much focus on medication in the assessment and management of chronic pain in the over 16s.
NICE says a number of commonly used drug treatments for chronic primary pain have little or no evidence that they work to alleviate pain or psychological distress. They also cause possible addiction. Consequently, NICE concludes they should no longer be so widely prescribed.
The draft guideline, which is now open to public consultation until 14 September 2020, adds that people with a type of chronic pain called chronic primary pain, should be offered supervised group exercise programmes, some types of psychological therapy, or acupuncture. NICE is referring to chronic widespread pain and chronic musculoskeletal pain, as well as conditions such as chronic pelvic pain.
For practitioner views on digital health technology with respect to chronic pain and fatigue management, plus the implications for employers and added-value services, read more here.
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