Fighting the opioid epidemic with smartphones

The opioid crisis killed more people in 2016 than the entire Vietnam War, and remains a public health emergency.

Fortunately, recent federal legislation provides nearly $1 billion in funding for research, rehabilitation services and Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) to help fight the epidemic. Emergency Departments (EDs) play a critical role on the frontlines.

Of the 140 million annual ED visits in the U.S., 10 to 16 percent are related to chronic pain. And from July 2016 through September 2017, ED visits for opioid overdoses increased by 30 percent. Addiction is complex, and patients are at different phases of the illness when they come to the ED.

That is why EDLoop created our Opioid Dependence Content specific to EDs. The clinician can use EDLoop to automatically text assessments, Fentanyl test strip resources, MAT protocols, rehabilitation services in their area, and videos, such as how to use Narcan. Plus, assessments and counseling are billable services.

Starting MAT in the ED, such as buprenorphine, shows early promise to be a cost-effective way to decrease opioid use. By using EDLoop’s HIPAA-secure platform to place the information directly on a patient’s phone, clinicians can maximize our chances to break the cycle of addiction. Without a digital strategy from the ED, the full potential of the new legislation will not be realized.

Emergency departments key to successful Medicaid expansion

Medicaid expansion has gained traction since it became an option as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010. As of January 2019, 36 states and Washington, D.C., have expanded Medicaid, receiving funding from the federal government to pay for the additional coverage.

With this increased state revenue comes increased interest from entrepreneurs to provide innovative solutions to help hospitals and health insurance plans manage this population. A strategy that involves the Emergency Department (ED) is critical to the success of any program.

Why? For one, Medicaid recipients use EDs more frequently.

EDLoop can be a partner to solve the problem of unnecessary ED visits and to maximize patient navigation after the ED. By placing information directly on a patient’s phone – from ridesharing services for appointments, to apps for adherence, to health literacy initiatives – EDLoop plays a critical role in wisely using new Medicaid dollars to improve health outcomes for this population.

Keeping patients informed shows cultural sensitivity

When it comes to today’s technology culture, the Emergency Department (ED) patient experience is too often culturally insensitive. Patients and families sit in the operational dark ages, even though they have a smartphone and receive instant messages from Uber, a food delivery service, and their dog walker.

New research is showing this can affect outcomes for patients, physicians and hospitals alike.

According to a recent Press-Ganey white paper on ED patient experience, the main driver affecting a patient’s likelihood to recommend an ED is the patient’s perception of how much the staff cared about them as individuals, followed by whether the doctor informed them about their treatment and whether they received information about delays.

When patients feel ignored, in part by being poorly informed, they feel less cared for.

EDLoop solves the problem of poor communication during ED stays both for the clinician and the patient. By automating updates in nine languages directly to the patient’s phone, we close the gap between the pre-smartphone past and the tech-savvy present for a diverse ED population.

Using a patient’s smartphone to solve the problem of suboptimal updating is easy with EDLoop.