Leveraging AI and Neurotechnology to Attack the Chronic Pain Crisis

March 4, 2019 • Frank McGillin

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Leveraging AI and Neurotechnology to Attack Chronic Pain

Attacking the Chronic Pain Crisis

The facts are startling.  An estimated 100 million Americans are living with some form of chronic pain, costing an estimated $635 billion per year for treatments and lost economic output.1  For too long the “simple” solution was prescription opioids; however, the impact of over prescribing is tragic, contributing to over 70,000 drug overdose deaths in 2017 according to the CDC.2

The impact on the chronic pain community of the opioid epidemic is affecting people in unexpected ways. According to a study conducted by NeuroMetrix, 84% of chronic pain patients believe there is a stigma around opioid use, and a shocking 50% have lied about their opioid use. Also, despite pressures in the medical community to reduce the dependency of these medications, 59% feel their doctor is not completely informed about treatment options outside of prescription drugs.3

The Role of Technology in Chronic Pain Management

We believe that technology can play a meaningful role in helping people with chronic pain manage their condition while minimizing the side effects associated with medications.  At HIMSS 2019, NeuroMetrix shared plans to enhance Quell Wearable Pain Relief Technology to improve user engagement and deliver more personalized care.  These enhancements will be available later this year.

Quell is the first pain relief technology to incorporate AI to personalize therapy.  Leveraging machine learning to analyze millions of data points captured from users, Quell evaluates user demographics, health conditions, pain levels and characteristics, device utilization and objective measures of sleep, activity and gait from Quell users to deliver personalized treatment.  The system can even adapt to changes in the local weather, providing user alerts and the option to increase dosage if the weather is predicted to change in a way that affects their pain! 

Enhancing Outcomes in Chronic Pain Relief

As with any intervention, user engagement and adherence is critical to successful outcomes.  This is particularly true in the case of chronic pain management, where the effects of the intervention may not become appearing for several weeks. Using techniques borrowed from gamification, the Quell app will soon introduce functionality to coach new users to achieve optimized results, providing inspiration, positive reinforcement, and nudges. 

As more Quell users contribute data, the algorithms that power Quell will continue to get smarter, and therapy more personalized, helping people regain what chronic pain has taken away from them.

  1. National Academy of Sciences (2011) Relieving PAIN in America. [Online] Available from: https://www.nap.edu/read/13172/chapter/2 [Accessed Feb 22 2019]. ↩
  2. 2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , National Center for Injury Prevention and Control [Accessed Feb 22 2019]
  3. Neurometrix/Vanson Bourne Research Survey of 1500 Chronic Pain Patients, 2018.

About The Author
Frank McGillin
Frank McGillin

Frank is Chief Commercial Officer NeuroMetrix where he is leading the development of a class of wearables with the launch of Quell® Wearable Pain Relief Technology™, an FDA-cleared 100% drug-free alternative for managing chronic pain. Quell was one of four health and fitness finalist for the Best of CES award and winner of the 2016 SXSW Innovation Award for Wearable Technology. After a successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo in 2015, Quell is now available online and through major U.S. retailers including Amazon, Target, QVC, and CVS.


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