Reducing Opioid Use for Pain Management

Data collection and use to prevent opioid dependence

Partner Co-investment - $2.7M

Supercluster Co-investment - $1.7M

Project Budget - $4.4M

Project Partners

*With funding support from Mitacs

Project Overview

Opioids are recognized as one of the most effective healthcare tools for managing pain. However, the dependency they can create has led to opioid abuse with both Canada and the US having declared the problem a national crisis.

Opioids also present challenges in their use after surgery, such as loss of patient’s awareness to the environment and reduction of his or her responsiveness, slow and ineffective breathing, respiratory depression, and delirium. They can also have the opposite effect, with pain worsening at higher dosages. 

Physicians need to balance pain management with prescribed medications; recognizing that at least 6% of surgery patients who are prescribed opioids become persistent opioid users. Unfortunately, physicians do not have the information that they need to minimize this risk at the time of prescribing medication, nor do they receive follow up data. This lack of systematic feedback makes it more difficult to reduce the rates of addiction. 

This challenge is at the heart of what is being tackled by the Careteam Reducing Opioid Use for Pain Management​ research consortium that has brought together a diverse group that includes Xerus Medical, Thrive Health, Excelar Technologies, BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, British Columbia’s Ministry of Health (advisory capacity), Providence Health Care, the National Research Council of Canada, Health Canada, the University of British Columbia, and the Canadian Medical Association’s innovation-focused subsidiary Joule.

The consortium is building a post-surgery monitoring system that will collect patient data and provide doctors with the information they need to better manage the prescription and use of opioids. 

Patient data from multiple sources, like prescription data and patient surveys, will be collected and centralized to create a complete snapshot of a patient’s treatment before and after surgery. Taken together this can be used by the patient and doctor together to improve pain management and implement strategies that reduce opioid use. 

While the consortium is starting with creating a Perioperative Monitoring System (POMS) to help tackle the opioids crisis, the data platform could be used to enhance the Electronic Health Records (EHR’s) that presently capture billing, medical, and legal documentation of a patient’s clinical encounters and hospital workflows. Over time, additional patient information, including genomics and pharmacogenetics data could be incorporated. 

Patient data collected from the system could be combined with the EHRs in a way that enables doctors and patients to make important decisions. And the POMS technology and platform, with further development, can be adapted for other realms of healthcare, such as chronic conditions such as arthritis, where pain and its management are central.  

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