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Digital Solutions Should be Accessible Tools to Address the Opioid Crisis

House Appropriations Bill recognizes that digital tools can play a role in evidence-based treatment

House appropriations bill report for HHS released
House appropriations bill recognizes digital tools for opioid use disorder.

BALTIMORE, Md. (June 26, 2018) — Sebastian Seiguer, CEO of emocha Mobile Health Inc., issued the following statement regarding the U.S. House of Representatives’ report on the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services (HHS) Appropriations Bill:

“This report takes an important step in the right direction by recognizing that addiction specialists need every possible mechanism for helping patients with opioid use disorder (OUD).

“While digital health tools are very new, several have been clinically validated and should be available to support patients in their treatment. In particular, digital platforms that can complement and expand traditional care -- rather than replace successful models -- are the key to solving challenges such as the opioid epidemic.

“The report singles out digital counseling tools, but it is important to recognize that evidence-based treatment for OUD includes medication assisted treatment (MAT). Currently, opioid treatment centers rely on a ‘fee for service’ model, which does not incorporate emerging and validated digital health tools that support adherence to MAT.

“Patients with OUD, for example, could benefit from video-based Directly Observed Therapy to help them adhere to medication regimens and stay retained in care. A NIDA-funded study is underway to study this intervention, and preliminary results suggest that emocha’s video DOT platform can increase trust between patients and providers as patients begin buprenorphine treatment.

“Finally, we need a comprehensive approach and must treat the whole patient if we are to overcome the opioid crisis. Therefore, we commend the committee for recognizing the other public health challenges that patients with OUD may also face, including hepatitis C, HIV, and tuberculosis. In addition to increasing screening and rapid testing, we hope that HHS is also able to use funds to support increased access to treatment for these costly and devastating infectious diseases.”

About emocha

emocha leverages technology licensed from Johns Hopkins University that delivers video directly observed therapy (DOT) to help people stay adherent to medication. Patients use a smartphone application to record videos of themselves taking each dose of medication and report any associated side effects. Providers assess patient data using a secure web portal and contact patients as needed. The platform is being used in public health departments, clinical trials, opioid use disorder treatment programs, hospitals, and managed care organizations to achieve high adherence rates and retain patients in care. Learn more at www.emocha.com.

Contact: Michelle Mendes | email: mmendes@emocha.com | phone: 410.928.4016