A recent study showed that SMS text messaging technology has assisted St. Louis residents in addiction recovery for opioid use disorders.
Epharmix, created by Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) School of Medicine alumni in 2015, is a digital healthcare company which designs technology to increase patient access to care managers and treatment options.
Epharmix has developed SMS texting-based automated platforms for patients with hypertension, depression, diabetes, and other medical conditions needing to be regularly monitored. The company released EpxSubstanceUse to determine if patients with substance use disorders are close to relapsing and require medical assistance.
“We have focused and continue to focus on chronic conditions and opioid dependence is a chronic condition,” Epharmix CEO Blake Marggraff said. “It’s different from depression, which might have a different trigger than a doctor prescribing pills, but doesn’t make it any less of a clinical condition.”
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services released preliminary 2017 data suggesting that although there were quarterly fluctuations in the amount of opioid-related overdose deaths in the state, the overall trajectory has been steadily rising. Metropolitan areas, such as St. Louis, have been affected the most.
Marggraff mentioned that technology may be the key to assisting physicians amid the opioid epidemic.
“You need to leverage technology that lets clinicians do their jobs, which is fundamentally different from saying that technology should replace or displace clinical talent—I don’t believe that at all. It almost gives care managers a superpower.”
EpxSubstanceUse streamlines communication between care managers and patients, which allows for individualized treatment options.
First, a care manager prescribes the service to patients. Next, their patients respond to automated text messages asking whether they felt close to relapsing in the past three days. The system then categorizes their responses to be of low, medium, or high concern. Based on patient risk factor, EpxSubstanceUse notifies their care manager, who can either call them directly to provide support or set a follow-up appointment.
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